Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dumb And Dumber: Two "Vegans" On Eating Oysters

Hello, i have been inspired to write once more..

You may have come across this piece in Slate, where a supposed vegan rationalizes the eating of oysters.

It's really quite inane, and launches off a false premise. I wrote a note to a friend who messaged me about it, and it went a little something like this:
What do i think?


He makes grand assumptions about what veganism is about, and based on those flawed assessments, stitches together an argument which is little more than rationalization to consume something he wants.

Veganism is not entirely centered around 'pain'. This is an extreme and graphic example, but if you cut a cow's spinal column, she can no longer feel pain. Does that make it okay to eat that cow? Or if you don't like that, how about engineering cows who can't feel pain, is that okay then?

Singer might make an argument that is focused around pain, but he's a Utilitarian, which is a clumsy philosophy, imo. It's all about the most happiness for the most people. So 'pain' and 'suffering' are all-important, and individual rights are abolished. (The needs of the many outweigh those of the few..)

With veganism, it's about respecting other animals (as individuals and communities), and challenging exploitative mentalities and the idea that other animals are 'here to be used'.

Cox's article does not address this fundamental aspect of veganism, and were he to try to inject this, i think the argument would fail.

My two cents. =)

I made a few minor edits for public consumption, but that's what i sent a few friends this morning. Then, just a few minutes ago, another friend posted a link to an even dumber take on the issue, no less from the mush-brained Erik Marcus.

EM insists the Slate piece is 'well-written' and 'well-argued'.

Good grief.

Sure, maybe EM might find it so, but the predictable stupidity ensues... EM doesn't try and make a case not to eat oysters on their own merit. Nah-uh. Instead, he focuses on 'sustainability', questioning if the practice is actually sustainable. No EM - this is not the "only glaring weakness" of the article. There are many, and i've addressed the more significant one that relates to veganism.

So no, this "vegan" won't defend oysters on their own merits. Instead, he raises a topic he probably knows NOTHING about (aquaculture impact of oyster farms). Although to be fair, there seem to be few topics EM has demonstrated any real depth or familiarity in. So he blabs on like Karl Pilkington from the Ricky Gervais show, tapping into a massive depth of ignorance to build mind-numbingly stupid narrations.

But this isn't supposed to be a funny and stupid podcast like Gervais. This is supposed to be a part of the vegan movement. The guy couldn't even speak up for oysters. Reading EM's bit doesn't even come close to making a case that there might be something wrong with eating oysters themselves. (And then the dolt touches on making a case for eating eggs!!!)

Erik Marcus - hand over the "" domain name to the Vegan Society of the UK. You've done enough damage already.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thoughts on Gary Francione’s HSUS Vegan Twitition

I'm going to carve a small chunk out of a Golden Calf of the animal rights world: Gary Francione. I'm already outside of his 'circle', so i'm not afraid to critique or challenge his ideas. Sadly, the reality is that if you want to remain on speaking terms with GF, you must also agree with him (at least to his face.) I know several people who have been ousted from GF's world (such as recently being blocked on Twitter) for uttering something as simple as 'i don't agree with all your ideas'. Whoops! No more GF Tweets for you!

I think it's funny that GF has a locked - aka hidden - Twitter account...despite the fact his followers re-tweet [repost] his every utterance. GF's Twitter account is here: - the message you're likely to get is: "This person has protected their tweets." Again: no Tweets for you too!

I suppose some of this is 2nd-hand knowledge, as i haven't bothered to request acceptance into the GF Twittersphere, but here's the Twitition, and it's apparently started by GF according to the page:

The text, presumably from GF, says: "The promotion of cage-free eggs and supposedly more "humane" forms of animal torture is wrong. We ask that HSUS use a small portion of its considerable resources to promote a clear, explicit, and unambiguous "Go Vegan" campaign."

On the surface this seems like a good idea, right? We want more campaigns for veganism, right?

I think this is a not-so-secret make-work project for GF, who apparently doesn't have enough to critique already. Allow me to explain:

In the Twitition statement, GF points out cage-free eggs and 'humane' animal products, two practices which HSUS supports and advocates for. True that. Hopefully this topic gets more discussion (which is perhaps a valid use for a model like an online petition, although I generally believe them to be useless..please tell me about an online petition that has resulted in some real change...)

HSUS also advocates killing healthy and adoptable cats and dogs in shelters (rather than ensuring they find homes.) They're also advocates (and founders?) of the 'Canadian Seafood Boycott', part of their Seal Hunt campaign. Apparently it's okay to leverage one animal species over another...not to mention that sea life from other country's waters are okay to consume. (And the term 'seafood' is offensive as well, implying that these animals are 'food'.)

These are just a few examples of the quality of 'animal advocacy' that HSUS perpetuates. It's really quite abysmal. And GF wants HSUS to begin a vegan campaign?! Considering how poorly HSUS represents other aspects of animal advocacy, does this make any sense?

Has any thought been given to how HSUS would represent veganism? All we have to do is take a look at their buddies over at PETA to predict how this would unfold.

One example is PETA's section of 'Accidently Vegan' food products. They highlight a significant proportion of junk foods that are 'accidently vegan' - almost all are from multi-national companies that profit from exploiting massive numbers of animals. And further, there's a footnote on the front page that indicates:

"*Items listed may contain trace amounts of animal-derived ingredients."

Gaaaah.. So items aren't necessarily vegan at all, but being offered as vegan fare.

There's no need to critique PETA further at this point (just scroll down to previous entries of my thoughts on PETA), but you can be assured that this type of listing would appear on an HSUS site, and offered as vegan food options. (For a further critique of PETA's list, check this blog:

If HSUS started this campaign, we would undoubtedly see them present veganism as an anti-factory-farming movement - not unlike Vegan[sic] Outreach. (When factory farms are gone, we can eat animal products again?)

It’s safe to say their campaign would see veganism reduced to a diet. And to assist in the 'transition', i would be willing to bet the left hemisphere of my brain that they would encourage lacto-ovo-vegans. No joke.

This is the quality of advocacy that we *know* we can expect from HSUS. This is no surprise. And already there are too many groups that misrepresent veganism, and degrade the meaning.

Why on earth would Gary Francione want to encourage yet ANOTHER group to join the ranks of those already mis-representing veganism?? There are too many doing this as it is! So very few promote veganism in a meaningful, honest way. And HSUS is anything but meaningful and honest when it comes to animal advocacy (check this piece about their requests for money to help animals in Haiti: ). I do NOT want to see them present their version of veganism...and it would be spread far and wide, considering their influence and money. This might actually be one of the WORST things that could befall veganism.

Is it possible for people 'unsign' from a Twitition? (I’m not going to sign it to find out!) At the posting of this, there were 618 people who signed it...

While GF has many good ideas, not all of them can be, or are. PETA and GF are similar in one respect: they both encourage us to question authority. Well, so long as it's not their authority.

If you do, PETA sends you a form letter. GF deletes you from Twitter, or sends his stooges after you. To disagree with GF can be a death sentence, so to speak.

If enough people speak up (yes, risking expulsion from his camp), perhaps GF will realize he makes mistakes, and will even be willing to admit as much. This would be better for activism and the movement. And if you're an activist, it's time to activate. Tell GF this is a bad idea, that HSUS would only misrepresent veganism, and that the petition should be shut down immediately.

Discussion, as always, is welcome.


My name came up in a Google Alert on Francione's blog, the text from the message is:
On Johnny Weir, Single-Issue Campaigns, Treatment, and ...
By Gary L. Francione
Perhaps that explains why FoA's David Shishkoff was opposing the “Go Vegan” approach that I urged HSUS to adopt. FoA tries to distance itself from HSUS and has done so historically. As I mentioned in the earlier essay, I have extended ...
Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach -
Yet, the actual blog entry, as of 9am PST on Feb 1st is:
Perhaps that explains why FoA was opposing the “Go Vegan” approach that I urged HSUS to adopt. FoA may have been trying to avoid becoming “HSUS lite” [...]
Has FoA been vocal on this issue? Any references there Gary, or when you type something we're expected to take it at face value? In case it isn't clear from the lack of my mention of FoA, this blog is my own independent project. When i comment on behalf of Friends of Animals, i'll sign my name with my FoA credentials (which i clearly haven't done here.)
Further, why did GF edit his blog and not post that corrections or updates were made? In other words, it could change from day-to-day, and no one would ever know. He can implicate someone, make accusations, and then simply edit it out once confronted..or make false claims, then simply pretend they never existed. Oddly, he's made the wrong edit here, and should be challenging me directly, not Friends of Animals, who's opinion on the issue i'm unaware of - although i would suspect it parallels my own.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Explosions and Animal Rights

Today i read something that really upset me.

I co-run an email list called AR-News. Its intention is to distribute animal rights-related news stories. It's been around for two decades, and i've been at the helm since around 2001.

Earlier today was a posting that was a 'media release' to the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, describing an event in Mexico that used two incendiary devices.

Thankfully, no humans were injured, but i cannot say if the resulting blast or concussion spared any other animals that may have been in the immediate area: insects, lizards, birds, rodents...even a passing cat or dog..?

I feel i summed up my thoughts well in my ADMIN NOTE that follows. Read both here:

How is it that an action that hurts other animals can be considered 'animal rights', or tolerated by vegans?

Further, i wonder what culpability comes from me running an email list that distributes (and could be viewed as advocates) this type of behaviour?

I spoke out against it, i hope it's clear that i am opposed to this type of action, and nearly every form of 'militant' action i can conceive. Further, i hope other activists take the time to speak out against this. Silence does not help our case, and i believe it's important that we make the distinction that this is clearly not 'animal rights' or 'vegan', and that these actions are something vegans and animal advocates disapprove of.

Peas out..

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Vegan Take on Meatless Mondays

Across the US, Canada and elsewhere, we're finding websites promoting 'Meatless Mondays'. One example from my country:

This blog entry, as usual, is a critique of vegans (and animal rights activists) participating in non-vegan activities. That is to say, i'm not criticising *all* who promote MM, although i believe a number of the points i bring up apply to others who promote MM (such as environmentalists - more on that below.) I really don't see a point to it from any perspective i can think of, but my imagination has its limits.

If today is Meatless Monday, what's tomorrow, Bloody Tuesday? Meatless Monday's follow the Sunday Slaughter? And in fact Monday will be just as bloody, if eggs or dairy are included. MM is definitely not a 'vegan' message from any angle. It isn't encouraging the end of animal exploitation. Nor is it promoting vegetarianism. I don't really know *what* the message is supposed to be. If there is enough of a reason to be meatless on a Monday, shouldn't it be good enough to be meatless every day?

This response can be repeated from nearly every angle. Why is it only good for the environment to eat no meat on only one day of the week? Wouldn't it be seven times better for the environment to give up meat every day of the week? (That seems significant to me.)

Or if it's being argued because people care about animals.. Why is Monday the only day of respite from breeding, imprisoning and then murdering an intelligent, sensitive creature? If it's worth giving up one day a week, why not all seven?

Perhaps even more troubling is that these efforts fail to ensure that 'less meat' is being consumed! Consider: are people who participate in MM actually buying less meat? Is there any evidence for this? Or do they buy the same amount, but compensate over the rest of the week by eating more over six days?

As an example, if someone normally buys a pack of lunchmeat for their pig-flesh sandwiches every day at work, will they carry the 'extra' over to the following Tuesday, or do they just eat the 'extra' over the rest of the week? (Or are there special, smaller 'Meatless Monday' packs from meat companies? HA!! If you don't find that funny, think about it for a moment.)

There's a very good case to be made that this is actually doing NOTHING - not even what the weakest-willed advocates hope for. What's worse, what if other animal products are being consumed to compensate for the lack of meat (since people are brainwashed into believing that they HAVE to eat animal protein)? If people are eating more eggs and dairy on these days, i don't believe that there is really any net gain (for whatever cause that is promoting this.)

Back to reasons for doing this, like for the environment. Why is a cow or bull who is used for their flesh 'worse' for the environment than a cow who is used for her milk? If this is being done for environmental reasons, the hypocrisy is evident: cow dairy is as harmful as cow flesh. The same can be said of chicken flesh and chicken eggs.

`Give up meat for Monday!` is well-meaning, but like `Give up war for Monday!` Peace is an everyday concept. - Lee Hall, aka @VeganMeans on Twitter

If you think that MM is good for animals, think again.. I feel like i'm getting repetitive, but the exact same issues come up as with the environment. Animals used for their excretions (cows for dairy, chickens for eggs) end up slaughtered for their flesh in the end as well...after spending several years as biological machinery. Their lives are not enviable, and no better than the animals used for their meat.

Meatless Mondays result in a false sense of accomplishment from their participants. In doing little-to-nothing (when looking at the bigger picture, and factoring in that they may not be eating less meat at all), they are rewarded, and feel entitled to joining the ranks of those of us who have made meaningful and serious commitments and sacrifices through changes in our lives.

Perhaps they are beginning to join vegans in spirit, but in all honesty that is not enough. Real change is needed. According to the World Watch Institute, 51% of all greenhouse emissions are from animal agriculture. To give that perspective, all cars, trains, planes and boats, the ENTIRE transportation sector, would amount to perhaps 7% of total emissions. The impact is tremendous, and the report is here: - it's a worthwhile read.

Instead of Meatless Mondays, these activists should be promoting meaningful efforts. Encourage more vegan meals. Start with getting participants to eat vegan breakfasts. These are easy, with cereal, oatmeal, toast, fruits and other common foods. This is a meaningful, positive change. And it's getting people to actually think the way they need to: that meals need to be *vegan*. Not 'meatless'. From there, encourage working up to lunches, and dinners. By preparing vegan meals, they're actually practicing veganism, and being mindful of real change.

If veganism is our goal (and nearly all who promote Meatless Monday would say this is the case), then we NEED to ask for veganism. Not 'Meatless Mondays', and then sitting on our laurels and hoping that they'll progress from there. Weak-willed, apologetic campaigns have dominated the world of animal activism for the last century, and relatively little has changed (well, if anything, people are generally eating MORE animal products, and actually feeling better about how 'humane' it is.)

I know numerous people who have been vegetarians for years and DECADES, yet still haven't gone vegan (although they claim it is their 'goal'.) The evidence is clear: asking people to go vegetarian generally results in vegetarians, not vegans. The type of activism that results in vegans needs to be vegan from the get-go. And Meatless Mondays is an even weaker degree of activism than vegetarianism. We need to stop watering down the message, and stepping further backwards. It's not working.

In summation: let's stop doing activism that doesn't work.

(Note: i can be found here on The Twitter. ;)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vegan Outreach Misses The Most Important Fact

Hey everyone - i'm still alive! Hard to keep the hate alive sometimes tho. ;)

Decided to revive the blog for this, the latest e-newsletter from Vegan[sic] Outreach, located here:

The title is: The Facts Speak for Themselves: You Are Changing the World!

While i agree there are changes occurring, i don't think any of the ones they refer to relate to veganism.

For example, one sentence from this celebration:

"And everywhere, people are talking about factory farming, the downsides of meat, and the benefits of vegetarianism."

None of this is about veganism.

Factory farming has nothing to do with veganism. To a vegan, a 'family farm' is still a death camp (as vegan founder Donald Watson describe it). Being vegan isn't a step to avoid the 'downsides of meat', but to celebrate life, peace and respect. And the benefits of vegetarianism are lost to a vegan.

According to this, there was a 4 point increase (from 24% to 30%) in a college food provider's poll providing vegetarian food over two years. Oh wait - Vegan Outreach can't do math - the HSUS piece they reference says the first poll comes from 2004. Five years ago, not two.

This is a success? Vegans don't want vegetarian food!!! We want VEGAN food.  Good grief.

And millions of Vegan Outreach leaflets means a four point increase over five years? That's 'awareness'? The poll was of 100,000 students, and 4% (4,000) more from 2004 have apparently decided that vegetarian options are necessary..

How many million leaflets have been handed out at US campuses in the last five years? Nearly 4 million, according to this. 4 million leaflets over 5yrs result in a 4 point more sympathetic votes in a poll THEY (VO) reference as favourable. (And marginally better were it over two years..)

I'm too depressed to come up with a witty retort to that dismal accomplishment.

They conclude that paragraph with: "The more people know, the more people choose veg!"

Once again, conflating veganism with vegetarianism, like the two are interchangeable. (I can't stand the term 'veg'. Utterly meaningless, and erodes the significance of veganism.)

This is success, and 'change' according to Vegan[sic] Outreach. And yes, the facts speak for themselves.

Changing the world means changing our minds, from one that accepts exploiting other animals to a mindset that rejects these practices. That's what veganism is about, and that's the change we need. Get with the program, Veg Outreach.

PS - find me on Twitter:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winograd: Taking Back Our Movement

Another excellent posting from Nathan Winograd, a no-kill advocate from California, who has unbelievable had to fight tooth and nail with the likes of PETA to establish no-kill shelters - as PETA has the backwards idea that 'animal rights' for cats and dogs is the right to be systematically murdered by humans.

According to this blog entry, a whopping 17 out of 1,997 cats and dogs were adopted out in 2008. That's a 0.8% success rate. Less than one percent. I think a dog has a great chance of surviving multiple lightening strikes than getting adopted out by PETA.

Enough from me, read on - by the end, join me in telling PETA and their supporters these famous words: I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!

Taking Back Our Movement

PETA is once again on the attack against ending the killing of dogs and cats in shelters and pounds. PETA functionaries like Daphna Nachminovitch and Teresa Chagrin continue to give voice to Ingrid Newkirk’s dark impulses by writing letters to the editors of newspapers, asking supporters to call their city councils, and putting out misleading and false propaganda in communities that have announced plans to lower shelter death rates by hiring compassionate animal control directors, passing shelter reform legislation, seeking No Kill goals, or implementing programs like TNR for feral cats.

Every time a community questions its shelter rate of killing and makes a decision to do something to reduce it in a manner consistent with the No Kill philosophy and the programs which make it possible, PETA goes on the offensive. In Pittsburgh, they called for the City to continue killing feral cats, rather than neutering and releasing them. In King County (WA), they sent robo-calls to supporters asking them to condemn the effort to save 85% of animals in the shelter. In Indianapolis, they questioned the hiring of an animal control director who wants to reduce the death rate by 75%. In Houston, they condemned a review of shelter operations with an eye to increasing lifesaving. In Tompkins County (NY), they attacked innovative strategies to save lives during peak intake periods. And in Charlottesville, they sided with fired employees (who killed animals that rescue groups were willing to save and one of which had a history of cruelty to animals) against a director who pledged to end unnecessary killing. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If a public official so much as questions whether there is something to learn from the No Kill philosophy and whether it might help reduce staggering levels of killing in their community, PETA goes on the offensive chanting kill, kill, kill.

Not surprisingly, PETA itself continues to put to death over 90% of animals they take in (in 2007, they adopted out a paltry 12 of 3,043 animals and in 2008, only 17 of 1,997 were placed in homes). But not content with passively killing animals brought to them as most shelters do, PETA maintains death squads of functionaries who actively seek animals out in order to kill them, as they did in Virginia and North Carolina, which resulted in police involvement for illegally dumping dead animals in supermarket trash bins. (As a "shelter" with the authority to kill, PETA staff was acquitted of animal cruelty charges.)

And what does our movement and our movement’s "leaders" do about it?

Instead of shunning them, the Humane Society of the United States invites PETA to speak at their national conference in a workshop equating No Kill with hoarding.

Instead of condemning them, the Animal Rights Conference inducts Ingrid Newkirk—the architect of its kill policies, and a killer of dogs and cats herself—into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame.

In fact, few national animal welfare or animal rights groups have stood up for the animals by opposing Newkirk or PETA, with notable and rare exceptions—Animal People, Friends of Animals, Alley Cat Allies, and the No Kill Advocacy Center.

How can animal rights/welfare groups expect the public to embrace their goals when the actions of their so-called "leaders" act in ways which are in direct violation of the principles they claim to espouse?

It is time for all animal welfare and animal rights organizations to stand up against PETA's hypocritical, unethical, pernicious, and abhorrent actions. It is time to publicly condemn PETA's policies that allow animals like that poor sweet dog above, to be given an overdose of poison from a bottle marked "Fatal-plus" and then dumped into a garbage bin like nothing more than yesterday's trash—killed despite readily available, proven, life-saving alternatives they simply REFUSE to implement.

PETA's actions are not compassionate. They are not kind. They do not promote the welfare of animals. This isn't a position consistent with a belief in animal rights.

What kind of movement tolerates the serial killing of those they are supposed to protect by the movement's very leaders and groups?

What kind of movement doesn't declare that those they are pledged to protect have a right to live?

What kind of movement inducts unapologetic killers and promoters of a view antithetical to their own core values into their hall of fame?

What kind of movement invites workshops which undermine its goals at their national conferences?

We must not let cowardice keep us from standing up to those who harm animals and hold back progress—just because they claim (falsely) to be part of our movement. We must not let complicity through silence continue to cost innocent animals their lives. And we must certainly not reward them through speaking engagements at national conferences or induction into a hall of fame.

It is time to take our movement back. Back from PETA which defends, promotes and even practices the antithesis of what they are supposed to represent. Which keeps our movement shrouded in the worst kind of darkness. And which kills animals unapologetically, opposes lifesaving alternatives, and does both with a fervor that can only be described one way. It is time to call evil by its name.

Friday, November 21, 2008 - Contributing to the BS

One of the most unfortunate incidents to befall veganism is that the domain name '' is run by Erik Marcus. The irony is that in his logo, he claims to be "Cutting Through the BS":

Yet he doesn't even seem to know what he's talking about. Check out the FAQ on his website. Under "What is a vegan?" he has written:
A vegan is someone who doesn’t eat animal products: meat, fish, milk products, eggs, or honey. Many vegans also avoid fur, leather, and wool as these products generally result in the confinement, abuse, or slaughter of animals.
Once more, veganism is dumbed down. And to the lowest common denominator: it's a diet.

Almost as an afterthought, he mentions "many" vegans also avoid wearing the skins and fibers from animals.

I'm sorry, but ALL vegans refuse to wear fur, leather, wool, silk and whatnot. And no, these products don't "generally" result in "confinement, abuse or slaughter of animals" -- they inevitably do. On top of it all, this apologist bonehead makes it sound as if confinement, abuse or slaughter are the problem. What is the 'line' here? Two out of three? If i don't abuse or slaughter the animal, is it okay to abuse them?

More-over, this all reduces the meaning of veganism. Like most 'authorities' on veganism, Marcus doesn't describe where veganism came from, or what it was originally intended to be about (as is no surprise, since it conflicts with what Marcus purports veganism to be.)

But, to top it off, there's this article (even highlighted on his blog) where Marcus, a supposed vegan, exclaims that he is "thrilled" about a place that exploits hens and sells their eggs.

I'm sorry, but no vegan should ever be "thrilled" about a place that sells eggs. But Marcus is "relieved beyond belief" that there are some cage-free eggs being made available. (Why don't advocates of cage-free eggs and other 'free-range' animals ever address the issue that in order to be cage-free, these farms must spread out immensely - thus eliminating significant amounts of habitat from free-living animals? Do chickens need to be cage-free more than other animals need space to LIVE?? You call yourself an animal advocate???)

In his vision, this "is only 5 percent of what needs to happen", followed by "We’d like them to be exclusive as soon as possible."

So 100% of what needs to happen, according to this vegan, is 100% cage-free eggs.

No, veganism isn't the goal. Cage-free eggs are.

What a disaster. With vegans like this, who needs omnivores? It's becoming really difficult to tell the difference.

Cutting through the BS, Erik? Not even close. You're at the forefront of the BS.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

UVic Martlet: Campus food outlets recognized for veggie-friendly practices

I had a quick Facebook interview with Kailey Willetts from the University of Victoria weekly newspaper the Martlet, as PETA had awarded UVic 2nd Place in their 'awards' for vegetarian-friendly campuses. Luckily, this turned into an informative article, rather than some skimpy fluff piece that typically results.

I'm guessing for 2009, UVic won't be included, after PETA's effort to highlight and promote themselves backfires in this instance. ;)

- Dave

Campus food outlets recognized for veggie-friendly practices
Nov 19, 2008 02:23 PM Kailey Willetts

If you head to Village Greens for lunch today, you'll find vegetarian fajitas on the menu. Or, if noodles are more your thing, you can opt for a stir-fry with tofu.

It's because of options like these that UVic scored second in Canada in the "Most Vegetarian-Friendly Universities List" from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals youth division (PETA2).

The competition focused particularly on vegan options, and praised UVic for its vegan lasagna, curried faux chicken and potatoes stuffed with chili and soy cheese. Winners were chosen based on their dining options, student nominations and votes.

Last year, UVic achieved fourth place overall.

With this year's second-place finish, UVic beat out nominees Simon Fraser University and the University of B.C., coming second to Mount Allison Univesity in New Brunswick.

According to PETA2, more students are becoming vegetarians or vegans because, on average, they are fitter than meat eaters. Eating animal products has also been linked to heart attacks, diabetes and other diseases, according to the group, which believes becoming a vegan is the best way to end animal suffering and protect the environment.

Dave Shishkoff, director of the UVic Vegan Association, says UVic is a good school to be a vegan at, and he's impressed with the venues offered on campus, like ones in the Student Union Building.

"The SUB apparently labels foods very well, and places like [Finnerty's] have vegan brownies, cookies and muffins, sushi and frozen burritos," Shishkoff wrote in an email interview. "Plus, our annual Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck is by far the most delicious Thanksgiving event in the city."

However, Shishkoff said the vegan message shouldn't be confused with the vegetarian one.

"Sadly, groups like PETA, Vegan Outreach and many others have completely ignored this, and are effectively 'dumbing down' veganism to what vegetarianism now stands for - which is nothing," Shishkoff said. "How many fish and chicken eating 'vegetarians' do you know?"

Shishkoff says that while UVic may be vegan-friendly, the message is meaningless coming from PETA.

However, he sees that the upside of the PETA competition is that it may encourage more vegan students to consider coming to UVic. Shishkoff believes it's important to have more active vegans on campus.

"I think a more useful campaign would be to assist vegans at colleges and universities in [promoting] veganism," he said.

For Shishkoff, being a vegan isn't a dietary or lifestyle choice, but a philosophy of "peace and respect, that argues that we shouldn't be exploiting other animals." He made the choice to become vegan 18 years ago, because it made sense.

"There was no reason for me to consume animal products. There's no physiological need, or requirement for anything that comes from an animal," said Shishkoff. "Other animals deserve respect and consideration as well ...should it really be a misfortune to simply not have been born in a human body?"

Shishkoff says being a vegan is very doable - it just takes a little education about alternatives. He also says it's more difficult dealing with social situations, but that people who take themselves seriously will encourage other people to as well - that they'll respect the "anti-speciesist" as they would an anti-racist or anti-sexist.

For more information about PETA2, visit their website at

For information about the UVic Vegan Association, visit their Facebook group: "UVic Vegan Association."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Irish Group NARA Opposes PETA Publicly

Below is another release from the group National Animal Rights Association, from Dublin, Ireland. So great to see them pushing aside common and popular notions, and thinking more deeply about these issues. They're right on with this, and that PETA has absolutely nothing to do with animal rights, confusing those who are interested in serious ideas..and of course they sully the name of animal rights.

Hopefully NARA will look more deeply into the issues; I wonder if they'd find that other groups that they link to, such as Vegan Outreach, to also be conflicting and problematic, and of even more concern, groups like SHAC and the ALF, who rely on threats, intimidation and violence in their attempts to be heard. If veganism and animal rights are a part of the peace movement, with respect and consideration being at the heart of these, perhaps these methods are opposite of our intended goals as well...

***Press Release***
Misrepresenting Animal Rights: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Although Irish organisations and individuals have sought to care for nonhuman animals for many years, animal rights advocacy ~informed by rights-based theory~ is a very recent development in Ireland. Grassroots animal rights advocates in Ireland intend to defend animal rights from the threat of neo-welfarism.

The Literary and Historical Society at UCD are hosting a debate next Wednesday (24th) entitled "The Animal Rights Debate", featuring Mr. Bruce Friedrich of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA). We believe that Mr. Friedrich will be contacting the media in Ireland to publicise this event and PeTA in general. He will characterise himself as an animal rights advocate even though he and his employers reject and marginalise animal rights theory. We, the grassroots animal advocates of Ireland, we who take rights, animal rights, and animal rights philosophy seriously, are furious about PeTA's distortion of animal rights, and we want no part in it. PeTA is not an animal rights group even though it claims to be (it claims to be the largest AR organisation in the world). This is misleading: PeTA do not promote animal rights beyond using the term as a rhetorical label and they purposely act against animal rights philosophy.

PeTA are inspired and influenced by animal welfare ethicist Peter Singer (author of the famous non-rights text, Animal Liberation).[1]

PeTA promotes NO animal rights philosophy on their web sites, eg:

"Animal Rights" to PeTA is just a slogan – they are not interested in the philosophy of animals rights and they never promote or mention AR philosophers such as Gary Francione [ ] and Tom Regan [ ].

Instead, they deliberately misname Singer as an animal rights advocate (see "why Animal Rights?" / – the 'learn more' tag links to Animal Liberation, a utilitarian text by a leading utilitarian philosopher. Animal rights is based on deontological ethics).

Laura Broxson, spokesperson of Dublin-based National Animal Rights Association, said: "We are just beginning to make a mark for animal rights in Ireland. The last thing we need is for people to believe that PeTA's childish stunts [2] and sexist campaigning [3] have anything to do with genuine animal rights campaigning. PeTA cheapen and trivialise animal rights. The message from Ireland: we don't want PeTA's silliness".

Speaking about NARA's philosophy, Laura Broxson said: "We say clearly and openly on our web site that we are opposed to rights violations. Animal rights is more than reducing suffering. It is a vegan position on human-animal relations that says we humans should not use nonhuman animals but respect them as a matter of justice. We at NARA feel we are making headway with our rights-based campaigns and the Irish public are beginning to understand that animal rightists believe that nonhuman animals are rights bearers who rights are frequently and routinely violated. We also would never engage in sexist campaigning like PeTA do".

Asked to comment, Dr. Roger Yates, sociologist and social movement theorist at UCD, said: "It probably would be a serious blow to rights advocates in Ireland if PeTA muddy the waters here with their rhetorical version of animals rights. From the perspective of effective advocacy, it seems logical that it is best for animal rights to be represented by those genuinely committed to rights-based philosophies about human-nonhuman relations. I doubt that Irish animal rights advocates will think that gassing millions of chickens, PeTA's latest 'victory' in Canada in partnership with KFC, has anything to do with animal rights. It is far from certain that such initiatives have much to do even with animal welfare".

"There has been a long standing belief within the animal protection community, at least among animal advocates in the USA and Britain, that animal rights and animal welfare are compatible ideas about the use and treatment of other animals. However, there is growing evidence supporting the contention that traditional animal welfarism and its newer formulations ('new welfarism' - represented by organisations such as PeTA) are antithetical to the aspirations of animal rights advocates", he added.


Laura Broxson, spokesperson for NARA – 086 8729 444
Roger Yates (UCD) – 01 716 8586 [mobile 0863912018]


[1] Ingrid Newkirk, president of PeTA, endorsed Peter Singer's 2006 collection, In Defense of Animals: The second wave (Blackwell), thus: 'Peter Singer's writings changed my life. I have waited for this book a long time, a quarter of a century in fact...'



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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Omnivore Outreach

I was recently reintroduced to a Vegan Outreach article the group touts called ‘How Vegan?’ by Matt Ball.

VO (Vegan Outreach) is very troublesome, in my opinion. They purport to promote veganism, but fail utterly to acknowledge where veganism even comes from (which seems ridiculous for an organization labeling themselves as such to do.) A search on their website for Donald Watson, who coined the term and defined veganism yields zero results on the date of this publication.

Of course, to recognize Donald Watson, or the Vegan Society would be a further step towards admitting that what they’re advocating isn’t actually veganism.

It’s very clear from VO literature that they’re all about suffering. We must do what we can to reduce animal suffering, even if it means eating or using the animals themselves (as suggested in the article I reference above.)

Imagine if I were to say that to better combat sexism, we should occasionally behave in a sexist manner in order attract more people to the cause.

The fallacy of this is evident, yet VO thoughtlessly makes this specious claim when dealing with veganism (or speciesism).

Isn’t this actually an argument against veganism? That it’s such an unimportant cause that we can at times participate in the system we supposedly oppose, in order to appear more acceptable to the general public? Must we put ourselves down and demean our own activism in this way?

This is patently wrong, just as how VO defines veganism, as some systematic approach to reducing animal suffering. Veganism has virtually nothing to do with suffering. Watson was keen, and the definition of vegan does not mention suffering at all. It is very explicit that animal exploitation is what is to be of concern to vegans. And this is a radical way to deal with the issue: exploitation is the root, and it is the cause of this suffering. To try and combat suffering is to respond to a symptom, but ignore or bypass entirely what’s causing the symptoms…and in all likelihood will only allow the illness to fester.

VO would likely define veganism as a diet. To me, this would be akin to defining feminism as ‘equal pay’. It totally strips away the rich and progressive views that are imbued in feminism -- and veganism.

More thoughtful activists would describe veganism as a lifestyle, but this still misses key points. To me, and others who have spent time reading what Watson wrote, it’s very evident that veganism is most accurately described as a philosophy. It is an outlook or perspective that seeks to actively oppose the exploitation of animals (including humans).

To ignore this is to ignore why veganism was brought about in the first place.  Watson was well aware that even in 1944 vegetarianism was becoming vague. There were vegetarians who ate animal products (dairy, eggs), which undoubtedly led to the deaths of the animals being used, not to mention that the exploitative mentality was also very present.

Vegetarianism was fundamentally veganism, but this message was being eroded away in order to make it more popular or acceptable. So, Watson envisioned a more consistent and progressive movement, and coined the term ‘vegan’ to label this outlook.

Today as you’ve probably already concluded, veganism faces this exact same problem. Instead of being a vivid and clear message against exploitation, it’s been dumbed-down to a diet – and in VO’s terms, not even a consistent one (as they try to include non-vegan things like honey as being vegan).

Sadly, very few ‘vegan’ groups have any idea where veganism came from, let alone the deep and important message that is trying to be conveyed. (I’ve seen that some even believe that VO or PETA came up with veganism!!)

It seems to me that Vegan Outreach is really Omnivore Outreach, as they seem entirely fixated on farm animals, and how they’re treated and should be treated. And at the end of the day, they’re missing entirely the scope that veganism covers, from the wide array of other animal products such as leather and fur, to free-living animals (who are the ones benefiting from a vegan human society.)

There is so much more to vegan advocacy, and for them to have ‘vegan’ in their name, and this degree of ignorance and divorce from the term itself is nothing less than shameful.

It’s time vegans consider more deeply what this movement is about, and recognize that we’re a part of a serious and important social movement, and by thinking and acting this way, we’ll eventually be accepted as such. I, for one, want to be recognized for more than being an advocate of a ‘diet’. That isn’t veganism.

(Note: I don’t mean to put Watson on a pedestal, hero worship is something I oppose strongly, however he is a handy reference point, and deserves credit for the vision and social movement he initiated.)