Aggressive Veganism?

How much is too much? The aggressive approach taken by many vegans and animal rights (AR) activists is a subject of debate for a while now within the movement. When I say aggressive I mean the level of intensity that some employ for their methods of spreading the vegan or AR message, from sharing graphic images, swearing profusely or actively criticising others. This doesn’t only mean being harsh it could also include focusing your efforts into a more relentless and forceful style of interacting with others. With this in mind I’d like to find out how many people take each side of the argument through a simple poll (below) to find out more about how our movement works. First I guess I should outline some of the basic ins and outs of each approach (which will of course not be exhaustive, just very basic ideas):

Aggressive Approach:

Pros:

  • It’s very easy to channel your passion and frustration into a more forceful way of dealing with others and most other vegans will identify with the things you are saying.
  • Properly calling someone out for their ignorance or stupidity in an argument can seriously limit their credibility to an audience.
  • A constant looming presence could influence people to make a change (this could be for guilt reasons etc.)
  • Animal lives are on the line so anything short of aggressiveness is not doing the issue justice.

Cons:

  • Many people may consider it off-putting, even other vegans and activists, which could damage the vegan image.
  • You can risk alienating people or shutting off a potential audience (such as the issue of swearing around children).

Laid-back Approach:

Pros:

  • Fostering a community that is understanding and encouraging is helpful for existing vegans and prospective vegan alike.
  • An easy going attitude is approachable and won’t put off/scare away potentially interested people.
  • Lots of positive content could encourage people to try veganism or influence them to make a change.
  • Trying to engage in discussions instead of arguments can encourage people to be open minded instead of assuming a defensive position.

Cons:

  • It can be hard to remain calm and level headed when witnessing the horrors and injustices inflicted upon other animals, and when met with ignorance or mockery it can be disheartening.
  • Some may say you aren’t doing enough or aren’t passionate enough about the cause.

So now you’ve seen a few basic pros and cons from each approach, and you’ve most likely encountered both sides at some point so have a sense of how they work. Now I’d like you to choose which you think is the best approach and vote in the poll below (anonymously) so we can see which is the most prominent side. Please try and get as many people as you can to take part in this poll so the results will be more accurate (share it on Facebook or Twitter or whatever).

*I haven’t added a middle ground “bit of both” option because it would skew the results, it may be a difficult decision but for the purpose of this study only the two options are available.*

What is the Best Approach, Aggressive or Laid-back?

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Thanks for voting, don’t forget to share this poll, we need as many people as possible to vote to make the results accurate! You can also follow me on Twitter or like my page on Facebook for more content.

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9 Documentaries That Could Turn Anyone Vegan

Recently there have been more and more films and documentaries that focus on the environment, animal rights and veganism. This is fantastic because documentaries and films have such strong impressions on people that they can really drive change, so make sure you share them with friends and family for maximum impact.

This post will list some of the most effective and popular films and documentaries so you don’t end up scrolling through Netflix for hours on end unable to decide what to watch. I will try to add both the popular films for people who are completely new to these ideas, and some more obscure but interesting pieces for existing environmentalists that are looking for more. As usual I won’t list them in any particular order:

Image credit goes to Cowspiracy.com

One of the most well known documentaries about the effects of animal agriculture on the environment, this film, directed and produced by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, is charged with facts and logic that people have a very hard time arguing against. Leonardo DiCaprio became executive producer for a new cut version released to Netflix in 2015, and since its creation it has become something of a symbol for vegans around the world.

The good thing about this documentary is the way in which it lays out all the facts in an easy to understand and thought provoking way (even though the figures are astounding). It focuses on the environmental impact of animal agriculture, but doesn’t ignore the ethical and health factors, and doesn’t rely on shocking or horrific imagery so it can be watched by anyone.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit cowspiracy.com for more information.

Image credit goes to peaceablekingdomfilm.org

This is an award winning documentary that tells the story of several traditional farmers who re-examine their relationships with animals. In doing so, their consciences show them that the only way to live is by going vegan. After realising their mistakes they set up sanctuaries for farm animals, it’s a truly touching story.

There is a newer version title, Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home  created by the same producer (James LaVeck) and director (Jenny Stein) in 2009 with a different star cast.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit peaceablekingdomfilm.org for more information.

Image credit goes to letlivefilm.com

A wonderful documentary directed by Marc Pierschel that explores the ethical, environmental and health reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle. Six different individuals are interviewed about their vow to remain vegan for life including a vegan chef who used to be a butcher, and a farm sanctuary owner who used to be a factory farmer.

‘Live and Let Live’ shows how veganism has evolved from its origins in 1944 London to one of the fastest growing movements worldwide, with increasing numbers of people realising what’s on their plates matters to animals, the environment and ultimately themselves.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit letlivefilm.com for more information.

Image credit goes to forksoverknives.com

‘Forks Over Knives’ is a documentary that focuses on the health aspect of modern diets; the damage caused by animal products and the benefits of plant-based diets. Solid correlations are made between animal products and degenerative diseases that are so problematic (especially in the west) today, all of which is presented and backed by strong scientific and medical evidence.

The major story line in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. The filmmakers also document several real patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and reveal how plant based diets help them to recover.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit forksoverknives.com for more information.

 

Image credit goes to getvegucated.com

A socio-comical documentary, ‘Vegucated’ follows three meat and cheese loving New Yorkers who agree to go vegan for six weeks. This journey starts as a method of weight loss, but they soon start to uncover the dark truth of animal agriculture, and turns them against the industry they had so recently patronised.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit getvegucated.com for more information.

Image credit goes to mayibefrankmovie.com

‘May I Be Frank’ is a documentary about the moving story of an unhealthy and overweight, middle-aged, Italian-American man who discovers that a plant-based diet can help him feel and look better after he visits the vegan restaurant ‘Café Gratitude’ in Berkeley, California. The Café Gratitude employees suggest an experiment, which he accepts and undergoes a life-changing transformation that you don’t want to miss.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit mayibefrankmovie.com for more information.

Image credit goes to nationearth.com

‘Earthlings’ is one of the most talked about documentaries around, and for good reason. Directed by Shaun Monson, music by Moby and (the English version) narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix, this film pulls no punches, and has been responsible for an awful lot of change. Not for the faint hearted, earthlings reveals the truth about the horrific way we treat animals without omitting the actual evidence, so many people have a hard time watching it (although if you can’t watch it, then you need to reconsider your consumption of animal products!).

The documentary is split into five parts that deal with different aspects of animal exploitation: pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. The use of hidden cameras reveals the true horrors that occur on a daily basis and provide a very real, and very disturbing picture of the way humans treat fellow earthlings.

The sequel to ‘Earthlings’ is called ‘Unity’ and was released in 2015, but also look out for the third part ‘Beings’ which will arrive in 2020.

Here is the trailer (WARNING This trailer contains disturbing material):

Don’t forget to visit nationearth.com for more information

Image credit goes to theghostsinourmachine.com

Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur challenges our view of animals as food and clothing as well as animal-tested goods and animal entertainment in this award winning documentary. Throughout the film Jo-Anne photographs animals on fur farms and at Farm Sanctuary, among other places, and seeks to publish her work. One of the core messages of this film is to re-evaluate how we look at animals; to start looking at animals as individuals instead of objects. The film as a whole is a plea for animal rights.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit theghostsinourmachine.com for more information.

Image credit goes to speciesismthemovie.com

Director Mark Devries sets out to investigate the world of of factory farms and reveal their secrets, as well as exploring the idea of speciesism, which is essentially the way humans assume superiority over other animals. Sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, this documentary sets out to make you rethink the way in which we treat animals and why we feel so high and mighty in an attempt to dispel the illusion of human superiority and look at animals in a new light.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit speciesismthemovie.com for more information.

Thank you for reading this list, I hope you found something new to watch and share! With that in mind please remember that sharing these documentaries is just as important as watching them, it is essential that the information and ideas they express is distributed so that people will start seeing the truth. Animal lives, the environment and even your personal health are affected by the exploitation of animals, but people simply do not know enough to change. Going vegan is the only way we can ensure our planet avoids destruction, the only way to avoid unimaginable suffering on an unprecedented scale and the only way we can progress as an ethical, intelligent species.

Please like and share this list to help your friends and followers discover new documentaries, and consider following me on Twitter and Google+, and liking my page on Facebook, thank you.

Image Credit:
Cowspiracy – Visit cowspiracy.com for more
Peaceable Kingdom – Visit peaceablekingdomfilm.org for more
Live and Let Live (featured image) – Visit letlivefilm.com for more
Forks Over Knives – Visit forksoverknives.com for more
Vegucated – Visit getvegucated.com for more
May I Be Frank – Visit mayibefrankmovie.com for more
Earthlings – Visit nationearth.com for more
The Ghosts in Our Machine – Visit theghostsinourmachine.com for more
Speciesism: The Movie – Visit speciesismthemovie.com for more

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Saving the Slow Loris – Guest Post

This post was written by Joshua Harris-Jones over at Harris-Jones Anthropology on 26/06/2016.

The slow loris, you’ve no doubt seen pictures or videos of these adorably cute little creatures all across the internet, but there is a darker side to this trend that needs to be exposed in order to save them from extinction. There is growing awareness of the seriously harmful effects of illegal wildlife trade on loris populations, but many people are still completely unaware of the fact that Lorises simply should not be kept as pets. This article will explain what exactly the slow loris is, why the pet trade is destroying their populations and what YOU can do to help keep them from extinction.

What is the Slow Loris?

'Slow Loris' by Jmiksanek is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Slow lorises are a group of several species of nocturnal primates (genus Nycticebus) that inhabit areas of Southeast Asia, and are the only venomous primates in the world. They are primarily arboreal creatures that sleep through most of the day, and their diet consists of gums and nectar, fruit and other vegetation, and insects. They have a strong vice-like grip and specialised networks of capillaries allow them to grasp branches for hours without losing sensation. Their movement is described as slow and snakelike, and they move exceptionally quietly to avoid alerting predators. When in danger, the slow loris raises its arms to lick a specialised gland on their elbow called the brachial gland which, when mixed with the lorises saliva, forms a potent toxin that is delivered by their bite. They are indeed adorably cute, but are very shy (they are called malu malu, or ‘shy one’ in Indonesia because they freeze and cover their face when spotted) and can become extremely stressed when disturbed or removed from their habitat (wouldn’t you be?).

Closest living relatives of slow lorises

Closest living relatives of slow lorises

From an anthropological perspective, lorises are a fascinating example of primate evolution. Slow lorises are strepsirrhine primates related to other living lorisoids such as pottos, galagos and to the lemurs of Madagascar. Lorisoids are thought to have evolved in Africa, and later groups may have migrated to Asia to evolve into the slow and slender lorises of today (Phillips & Walker, 2002), with molecular clock analysis suggests that the slow loris may have begun evolving into distinct species around 1omya (Perelman et al. 2011).

Effects of Illegal Wildlife Trade

Now you know a little bit about these amazing creatures, you need to know why the pet trade is rapidly decimating loris populations and driving them towards extinction. Their habitats are being affected by deforestation, but illegal wildlife trade is having a huge effect on loris populations, this is due to their value in traditional medicine and their popularity as ‘cute’ pets. They are hunted and captured from the jungle and sold illegally in pet markets, then smuggled to countries such as Japan to be sold as pets. Almost all slow lorises kept as pets are being kept illegally, it is almost impossible to get a slow loris as a pet legally because of all the documentation and requirements, but many people either do not know or ignore this fact.

'Nycticebus tooth removal 01' by International Animal Rescue (IAR) is licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0

The painful removal of teeth often leads to infection and death

However. people don’t understand how harmful this is to lorises. Firstly, since lorises are venomous, their fangs are removed, either by pulling or clipping (basically with common nail clippers), all without anaesthetic. They are kept in cramped, unsanitary conditions and handled roughly which is immensely stressful, and even after being sold off as pets, they are constantly stressed and frightened. Keeping a slow loris as a pet is extremely difficult due to the fact that the conditions they need to survive cannot be emulated properly, as such most die from infection, improper handling and inadequate nutrition. The videos that you see of lorises being tickled, fed rice balls etc. show sick, overweight and utterly terrified animals that are most likely now dead due to their owners not being able to provide the conditions they need.

The Little Fireface Project

The Little Fireface Project was started by the Nocturnal Primate Research Group of Oxford Brookes University  in 1993, and aims to save lorises from extinction by learning more about them and raising awareness and empathy around the world through education. In 2012 their research was featured in ‘Jungle Gremlins of Java’ a documentary that highlights issues surrounding the exploitation of lorises that need to be resolved. Director of the Little Fireface Project is Prof. Anna Nekaris, professor of anthropology and primate conservation at Oxford Brookes University, where I have had the honour of experiencing her teaching first hand.

You can learn more by visiting the Little Fireface Project website here

How to Help the Loris

'Slow loris' by Encyclographia is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

There are many ways in which you can help to save the lorises from extinction. One of the easiest methods is simply to spread the word; educate others and explain why lorises shouldn’t be kept as pets. Avoid watching ‘cute’ loris videos or liking pictures of pet lorises (because you now know the dark story behind them!) and actively report them as animal abuse. Many people are simply oblivious to the harm they are causing to loris populations, so you must spread knowledge to make sure they aren’t hunted to extinction. You can sign petitions and or even send a notice to your nearest Indonesian embassy to show your concerns and opposition to the illegal pet trade.

You can also donate to groups such as the Little Fireface Project, either by direct donation or by buying products that support the group, such as the Little Fireface Etsy shop. 100% of the money donated to the Little Fireface Project goes towards conservation education, fieldwork on wild and introduced slow lorises, law enforcement training initiatives and funds to support studies of these amazing creatures.

If you are feeling really ambitious you can even volunteer to travel to Java to help out! You can find out more about this here.

I hope you have found this article useful and now know more about the slow loris and the effects of the illegal wildlife trade on their numbers. Please do your best to educate others and call for the labelling of ‘cute’ loris videos as cruel and abusive so that they are removed. Share this page with your friends and family, and do your part to ensure the future of this fascinating, beautiful primate!

Don’t forget to follow this website (which you can do from the foot of this page) to keep up to date with anthropological research, and check out Harris-Jones Anthropology on Facebook,Twitter and Google+ too, thank you.

References:
Perelman, P., Johnson, W. E., Roos, C., Seuánez, H. N., Horvath, J. E., Moreira, M. A. M., Kessing, B., Pontius, J., Roelke, M., Rumpler, Y., Schneider, M. P., Silva, A., O’Brien, S. J., Pecon-Slattery, J. (2011). Brosius, J, ed. A Molecular Phylogeny of Living Primates. PloS Genetics 7(3), e1001342.
Phillips, E.M. & Walker, A. (2002). Fossil lorisoids. Ch.6 in Hartwig, W.C. The Primate Fossil Record. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Images:
Featured Image:Slow Loris‘ by Jmiksanek is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tooth Removal: ‘Nycticebus tooth removal 01‘ by International Animal Rescue (IAR) is licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0
Loris Drawing: ‘Slow loris‘ by Encyclographia is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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Meat Free Monday: A Curse in Disguise?

The idea of ‘Meat Free Monday’ has become increasingly popular recently, and many people are praising the progress being made in the name of animal welfare and environmental sustainability. If you are not familiar with the concept, people are encouraged to not consume meat products on Mondays in an effort to improve health, save money and reduce environmental impact. Many argue that this can only be positive, it is a step towards the eventual transition to a completely plant based diet that is needed to avoid environmental collapse. However, as usual it is our duty to look deeper and examine the latent implications in order to fully understand the situation. Meat Free Monday may indeed be more of a curse than a blessing.

  • Meat Free Monday encourages complacency. Instead of properly tackling the ethical, environmental and health issues that surround animal products, people may feel as though they are doing enough by just avoiding meat for one day. By championing the herculean efforts needed to not eat meat for just one day, people remain unaware that their effort is minuscule compared to the good they could be doing by going all the way. Also, it detracts from further efforts to encourage change: If people are already satisfied that they are ‘doing enough’ they are far less likely to make further efforts. The importance of the plant based movement is diminished by praising the only partial recognition of environmental issues, animal lives and personal health, so Meat Free Monday could be actively damaging the vegan message.
  • There is not enough emphasis on educationThis is always a driving point to my arguments, education is essential for almost every aspect of progress, whether it be environmental protection, animal rights or anything else. The problem with Meat Free Monday is that not nearly enough emphasis is placed on actually educating people as to why animal products are harmful. Without really knowing why they are participating the whole purpose of the activity is lost and people are left assuming ‘it’s something to do with health’ or ‘I think I’m saving the environment’. The only way to really stress the importance of the plant based movement is by making sure that people are educated about the issues that need addressing. However, armed with the knowledge about the harmful nature of animal product industries, Meat Free Mondays would seem pointless and nothing short of complete veganism would be logical.
  • Dairy and eggs are not included. By placing the importance on meat, the egg and dairy industries are ignored and reduced in importance. Physical meat becomes the symbolic representation of animal products and makes people blind to the total saturation of animal products in our everyday lives. If the activity was to avoid all animal products for one day, people would realise how damaging animal products are sneaked into a ludicrous percentage of everyday items. The dairy and egg industries are extremely damaging and unethical (read more about the culling of day old male chicks here) and it seems illogical to leave them out of the picture.

There may be more points, but these are the blaringly obvious points that come to mind immediately. I’m interested to see what your ideas are on the subject, do you support the Meat Free Monday campaign, or do you think it is actually damaging? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

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Youtube Tried to Silence Us

Hey everybody, I don’t know whether you have been following the dramas surrounding the popular vegan Youtuber scene at the moment, if not then don’t bother it’s just a load of infighting between the likes of Freelee and Durianrider etc. If you have, then I need you to avert your attention anyway. Many of you probably know of the vegan activist Bite Size Vegan (Emily Moran Barwick), but amidst all the dramas on Youtube you may not have noticed that a very influential and popular video of hers was censored by Youtube.

This may not seem like a big deal since videos get taken down all the time for this or that reason, however this action by Youtube actually went against their own policies. The video itself is a fantastic speech given by Emily that highlights the issue around animal agriculture from ethical, environmental and health perspectives that are all backed by proper research and citation (personally I found the video to be as effective, if not more effective than the likes of Cowspiracy). Youtube censored the video by only allowing logged in, age restricted viewers to see the video, which could only be reached through links.

They stated that footage from the video was in violation of their policies because it showed violence, killing and gore. However, within their own policies they clearly state that exceptions are made for educational purposes. Let me just state that this was a speech given to a group, an actual educational presentation, yet it was not considered educational. Youtube found it necessary to remove this ‘non-educational’ material from their listings, yet many, many accounts that film and document the live hunting or killing of animals are still available for unrestricted public viewing.

They tried to silence us by stopping educational material that needs to be seen, material that has to be seen for people to understand what is at stake. For this reason, the video was uploaded again onto the Bite Size Vegan Youtube channel with the ‘inappropriate’ content replaced and is freely available once more, so please, please, PLEASE watch this video all the way through, like and share it as much as possible.

Ignore the rubbish that is happening between popular vegan Youtubers at the moment and refocus on what is actually important: spreading the vegan message through education and positive action.

Thank you for reading, here is the video:

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