Wins for Whales, the Fight Continues

April 10, 2014

Sea World San Diego
Photo: Sea World San Diego

Blackfish has been incredibly effective in bringing the plight of whales to the mainstream (invite some friends over and rent it tonight if you haven't seen it yet!). The media has become aware of gaining interest in whales, and the thread of whale news headlines has been consistent (incidentally drawing attention and support to the long-time work of activists who have been trying to tell everyone the deal for a bajillion years).

One big win is the revocation of Japan's "scientific" whaling permits in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. In the Australia vs. Japan case, the International Court of Justice ruled last week that Japan's activities in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary were not, in fact, scientific, and breached International Whaling Commission regulations.

Captain Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd was a major player in the case, the only organization having worked to disrupt illegal Japanese whaling activity in the area. If you don't know Sea Shepherd, check them out, and please do support their efforts financially and through social media. Legislation is one thing, adherence is another. The ruling will need enforcement and Sea Shepherd is committed to keeping watch:

"Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s international volunteer crew stood on the frontlines in the hostile and remote waters of Antarctica for eight years," a Sea Shepherd statement reports, "[our Australia branch] took up that gauntlet for the last two years and will keep confronting Japanese whalers in Antarctica until we can once and for all bring an end to the killing in this internationally designated “safety zone” for whales."

Meanwhile, Santa Monica, Ca. Assemblyman Richard Bloom, inspired by Blackfish, introduced a bill that would prohibit SeaWorld from using orcas in its shows. It would also outlaw SeaWorld's captive breeding program and order the remaining Orcas in San Diego to be kept in larger “sea pens” if they cannot be returned to the wild (they would remain on site for public display only and could no longer have contact with trainers, except for veterinary care). 

This last Tuesday April 8, Sea World went before the Assembley's Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee to ask that Bloom's bill be scrapped. The majority of the members have historically sided with animal rights, so we've got advocates on our side...but the committe decided to send the bill into an "interim study" until next year to flush out more information about the well-being of the Sea World's whales and how the bill would effect the "potential repercussions on reseach," and the local economy of San Diego. 

Assemblyman Bloom remains hopeful and committed, ensuring the bill's supporters that "good things take time."

No doubt Sea World will be lobbying over the next year as the bill's sponsors collect the information they need. We'll have to keep this issue alive and kicking until then, keeping pressure on our legislators. Please continue to spread word and lobby support for captive orcas.  

I'll keep you posted with ways to help!

Source: 1, 2

Truck Accident Sends Frozen Pigs Flying

April 2, 2014

Photo: Kicki Nilsson/TT

Bacon never really shows up. Yes, curly, bubbling strips frying in a hot pan are what's sold on TV, some restaurants even risk a smiling logo of a cartoon pig on their signage. But bacon never shows up as dead pigs, let alone frozen dead pig carcasses strewn across a highway after being dislodged from their hooks inside a delivery truck.

In an accident in Sweden last week, the roof of a carrier truck caved in from the weight of slaughtered pigs, ripping the truck in half and sending the bodies of 200 pigs flying. Bystanders were, of course, shocked and disturbed, while cleanup took over 6 hours.

Anders Wallin, a local policeman, stated that it was "likely" that the bodies would be destroyed due to damage from the accident, but we all know that the animal agriculture industry hates to lose money, squeezing every cent they can out of their cull. My guess is the bodies will be sold to any of the hundreds of industries that use pig products.

The difference between the idea of meat and the reality of meat is indeed shocking, only proving that most people aren't the omnivores they think themselves to be.

For most people, the hooks and skin (which looks like our own), the exposed bones and ripped flesh, taken in one sight, trigger a sense of alarm, a sense of wrongfulness. But this is what it really means for once-living bodies to be treated like "pieces of meat."

The accident, literally ripping away a veil, only reveals the callousness of the norm. As gross as this news is, I am thankful any time the animal agriculture industry is exposed.

Did it take witnessing the reality of meat and dairy production for you to become vegan? Do you think any witnesses of this accident gave up meat on the spot? Leave a comment below:

Source 1, 2

Shriner's LA Circus Goes Animal-Free!

April 2, 2014

I'm envisioning this news marking a domino effect in the animal circus industry! After 88 years of animal exploitation and numerous accidents, abuses, and violations of the USDA's Animal Welfare Act, Shriner's Circus has announced that their annual fundraising circus event this year in L.A. will not feature any performing animals (just the human ones). Replacing the animal acts are aerialists, acrobats, clowns, and rides (there's a page devoted to this very idea in my second book, Vegan Is Love).

People always ask me how we teach our little one to make vegan choices when the rest of the world seems to be having so much fun without them. This news is a perfect example of my answer. We include our daughter in the news we learn, discussing the who's, what's, and why's.

In just a few minutes, a child can absorb both sides of a story—the circus's aim to raise funds by making their audience happy vs. the animals' perspectives and the abuses they endure—and can then rationalize a compassionate choice. A news story like this is a great opportunity to educate kids about the realities and the potential end of businesses that use animals for entertainment.

Very important: during the discussion, ask lots of questions so your kids can begin to formulate opinions and values on their own!

I know it's slightly sickening to thank abusers, but I think it's the right thing to do in this case given that a) Shriners has circus events all over the nation, and b) it doesn't seem that this move was necessarily a permanent change to all its shows. It would be good for them to hear we're watching, and good for other animal entertainment shows to know that there's support and publicity should they go this way, too.

You can sign a pre-written gratitude petition here.

Sources: 1, 2