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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VegFest London 2016

VegFest 2016: Picture the scene from the 1971 ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’, the doors opened and a whole world of wonders lay waiting as we rushed out to explore. There were mountains of dairy-free ice cream, seitan trees and a river of cacao… okay, it wasn’t quite as dramatic but that is how it felt! It was truly inspiring to see stall upon stall of goodies that were not only suitable for vegans, but were made for vegans.

vegfest-2016

From confectionery to clothing VegFest had it all, filling up two huge areas on the 1st floor, loads of stalls upstairs on the 2nd floor, as well as several large rooms for talks and presentations about athletics, cooking and activism. It took me all day to make my way around (I was there from around 10:00 until 17:00) and I still only managed to get a quick glance at some of the stalls, I really regret not being able to attend both Saturday and Sunday.

It was great to see some of the vegans and brands that I knew such as Vegusto, Bute Island Foods (Sheese), Jollyum and the Dr. Hadwen Trust, as well as so many new and upcoming ones. I ended up spending far too much but there was hardly any guilt since I knew that my money had gone to support vegan friendly companies and groups (as well as some actual donations such as the Hillside Animal Sanctuary). I couldn’t resist getting a new t-shirt and hoodie (thank you Anticarnist!) patches for my jacket, stickers and plectrums (thank you Vegan Sidekick!) and an awesome new strap for my bass guitar made out of a recycled bike tire!

anticarnist

All in all it was a great day to be vegan, being surrounded by so many wonderful people really was a treat, I’m ready to book my ticket for next year already! I highly recommend you go to one of the VegFest events around the country if you haven’t already done so, it really is an amazing experience.

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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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Top 5 Vegan Health Myths

This article has been written to dispel some of the myths that surround veganism in an attempt to lay out the facts. This article is not supposed to be an attack on meat eaters, I am not suggesting that vegans are ‘better than you’ I am simply trying to make the facts truthful and clear regarding links between health and a vegan lifestyle. This article is designed to address only the health aspects and will not include arguments for other concepts within the vegan movement such as environmental concerns or animal welfare.

I have tried to be as objective as possible, since health is a silly thing to lie to oneself or others about, and misinformation could be detrimental. Also note that I am not personally a medical professional, I have only conducted research examining recent scientific studies and evidence, but the following should not be treated as medical advice and should not replace recommendations by trained medical professionals or your personal judgement.

I hope this article will provide you with some useful information and make you rethink some of the vegan health myths which are are now either outdated or have been disproved.

Without milk you won’t get your calcium

Calcium by The Fox Eyed Man

One thing that is often assumed about vegans is that without dairy products they will be deficient in calcium and thus more vulnerable to issues with bone density and health. However, recent studies are increasingly suggesting that this simply isn’t the case. What many people don’t realise is that common, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, broccoli, nuts and beans (to name a few sources) provide an excellent source of calcium (and indeed iron and essential proteins among other goodies), even potentially more than dairy products can provide. It is very easy to obtain adequate calcium (and iron) on a vegan diet, and because of its ready availability it should not be a concern even for vegan athletes (Fuhrman & Ferreri, 2010). With athletics in mind, it is worth remembering that bone density and health is directly linked to exercise and activity, the more active you are the better your bone health. Of course this is dependent on diet and lifestyle on an individual basis, since anybody can be inactive and have poor diets.

A study by Appleby et al. (2007) showed that vegans had a similar bone fracture rate to meat eaters and vegetarians, the (the minute difference possibly due to the lack of leafy vegetables in their diet). This has led to the conclusion that everyone should be monitoring and supplementing their calcium intake whether vegan or not. It is also interesting to note that there are continuing debates within scientific communities over whether high animal protein intake can in fact cause calcium loss through urination due to blood acidity (Kerstetter et al. 2003). Just as a warning for everyone, urine calcium loss is also linked to sodium intake, some suggesting that each gram of sodium in a diet can cause 20mg calcium to be lost, so diets high in sodium are associated with reduced bone density (Bedford & Barr, 2011).

You might be shocked to hear that most people around the world are in fact technically lactose intolerant. This is because the production of lactase, the enzyme produced by the gut that is required to break down lactose, stops after children move on from breastfeeding. This is natural since the body no longer requires milk from the mother when it can digest solid foods, so why do people rely on the breast milk from other animals when their body cannot digest human milk, let alone that of another species.

Therefore the myth that vegans cannot get enough calcium without dairy milk is simply not true. Vegans should make sure to monitor calcium intake, but if they are eating a healthy diet (like everyone should!) it should never be a concern. That said, I would advise everyone, vegan and not, to supplement their calcium intake with either vitamin pills or fortified foods, simply because osteoporosis is a concern for so many ageing people and the dietary causes are still not fully understood, and osteoporosis is an awful fate for anyone. So by making sure to get enough calcium rich greens and pulses, and exercising regularly any vegan can have perfectly healthy bones.

Vegans need to take loads of supplements

Supplements by The Fox Eyed Man

This follows on nicely from the previous myth, but extends to include a variety of vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamins D & B-12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. This a funny one in the sense that essentially everyone needs to take supplements of some sort. What I mean by this is that many foods are fortified by manufacturers with vitamins, an easily recognisable example is breakfast cereals, they often have big labels advertising the fact that they contain some of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals. Many people don’t realise that the reason this is seen as necessary is because we have moved too far from the diets we are designed for, for example a variety of nuts, pulses and seeds, leafy green vegetables and fruit are great sources for these vitamins and minerals… exactly what vegans have given up animal products to embrace. Even the milk that you think is full of vitamin A and D only has those vitamins because they are added afterwards to make sure people get enough.

I’m not saying that a vegan diet provides all the things we need, but neither does a meat based diet, so both require supplements of some kind. Vitamin D is essential for helping to absorb calcium (see above), and is a concern for most people since humans have moved from their evolutionary origins in Africa (this is seen as one of the driving causes of white skin pigmentation as people moved north). Since we obviously don’t produce as much vitamin D from exposure to the sun as we move into more northern latitudes we should be supplementing our natural vitamin D (this is a classic example of cultural adaptation). People with dark skin find it harder to produce vitamin D, but anyone living in places that aren’t mainly hot and sunny (for example anywhere above the equator) should really be supplementing their vitamin D, especially during the winter (Craig, 2009).

One of the most prevalent concerns about veganism is the fact that B-12 is no longer found in large enough concentrates to be absorbed naturally through a plant based diet. This concern is real because B-12 is essential and most people don’t want to have to take supplements for such an important vitamin. Most people think that B-12 comes from meat, however the actual source of B-12 is bacteria found in soils, which are now all but depleted in most places, and gut bacteria in animal digestive tracts. Since most farmed animals don’t eat a natural diet which includes traces of soils and faeces this means that the B-12 you get from meat… is given to the animals as supplements in their food/injections (Stewart, 2013)[Cobalt is the dietary supplement needed by ruminants to synthesise B-12]. So everyone is actually taking B-12 supplements, but vegans are the ones getting it more directly.

Vegans need to regularly consume fatty acids such as omega-3, but these are readily available from many sources such as walnuts, flax and hemp seeds, canola oil and many soy products (Craig, 2009). Everyone should make sure to get enough of all the above vitamins and minerals, vegan or not, so make sure to check your diet to make sure you are either eating foods rich in goodies or at least taking supplements, and try to get out in the sunshine as much as possible but be careful not to burn! (remember you should wait around 10-15 minutes in the sunshine before applying sunscreen to allow for sufficient UV absorption).

Vegans aren’t healthy

Healthy by The Fox Eyed Man

This myth is becoming less and less popular through time as people realise that veganism is actually a very healthy and fulfilling lifestyle, studies showing that veganism is sometimes even considered the more healthy lifestyle (Clarys et al. 2014). Countless vegan athletes continue to perform either as well as or better than athletes that consume animal products, and the vegan diet is becoming synonymous with glowing health and longevity.

As you can see above there is ever growing evidence that obtaining the right amounts of vitamins and minerals can be easy on a vegan diet, and the idea that vegans lack protein is now outdated. The adequate combinations of essential amino acids can in fact be obtained solely from plant sources (Young & Pellett, 1994), and come without the added hormones, antibiotics and unwanted fats (plant proteins instead come with good fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals). In fact the consumption of plant proteins instead of animal proteins is suggested to decrease risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer due to activity by providing “non-essential” amino acids that promote increased glucagon activity (Krajcovicova-Kudlackova et al. 2005; McCarty, 1999).

As mentioned before there is a rise in the number of plant based athletes around the world, and they are certainly making waves. For example at the time of writing this article Patrik Baboumian is the strongest man in Germany… he has been vegan for years. There is increasing evidence that meeting the dietary needs for competitive athletes is entirely possible (Wirnitzer, 2014; Fuhrman & Ferreri, 2010) and has even been said to produce leaner more energised athletes.

So as you can see it is a myth that vegans can’t be healthy, there is much evidence that suggests otherwise. This is of course dependent on lifestyle of the individual, there are still many unhealthy vegan foods (like fries for example) so it’s not enough to say a vegan lifestyle will make you healthy. However this isn’t limited to vegans, everyone should plan their diet and activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it’s clear that this is achievable as a vegan.

Vegan diets aren’t suitable for children

Children by The Fox Eyed Man

First I would like to remind you of the points above. As evidence suggests, the human body can get the nutrients it needs from a plant based diet and can be an extremely healthy way to live. HOWEVER this does not mean that a child’s diet and activity shouldn’t be monitored to make sure they are getting everything they need to grow and develop healthily. This applies to EVERY parent, not just vegans. I have seen parents condemning vegan parents for not providing their children a healthy diet, whilst continuing to feed their own children a diet filled with sugar, processed meat and rarely any vegetables.

Just like anyone else a vegan diet can be a perfectly healthy one for children as long as it is planned properly, and there is no evidence of physical or intellectual impairment in vegan children that are well cared for (Sanders, 1988). There was a story that hit the headlines recently of an Italian child that was rushed to hospital because it was supposedly malnourished from its vegan diet. However, since the author was so busy condemning vegans the fact that it was neglectful parenting, not the vegan diet, which had caused the harm was ignored. This leads to a worldwide expectation that vegan diets are bad for children when in reality they can be extremely healthy and provide all the nutrients for normal healthy development.

Soy contains oestrogen and lowers testosterone

Soy by The Fox Eyed Man

Until relatively recently it has been widely believed that soy was a source of oestrogen that could throw of the body’s natural hormone balance and cause testosterone levels to drop. However so much evidence has been produced that disputes these claims that this myth is now considered outdated.

The reason these claims were made in the first place is that soy contains phytoestrogen compounds called isoflavones which have chemical similarities to oestrogen. However, even though they are similar these compounds do not affect the body in the same way; isoflavones found in soy do not affect reproductive hormones (Hamilton-Reeves et al. 2010; Maskarinec, 2006). It is even increasingly considered that these isoflavones, especially genistein and daidzein, are linked to reducing risks of many hormone-dependent cancers, cardiovascular diseases and age related conditions (Pilšáková et al. 2010; Atkinson et al. 2005; Constantinou et al. 2005; Ravindranath et al. 2004; Lee et al. 2003). One of the reasons for the misunderstandings about isoflavone activity in humans was due to tests conducted on rodents, whom now are understood to process isoflavones differently to humans.

Therefore the myth that soy is harmful due to oestrogen activity and reduction of testosterone is now considered false. What I will say is that effects of high soy consumption have not been extensively tested and cannot be assumed to be as benign, so I personally would suggest moderation when consuming soy (also the closer to raw, natural soy the better). This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone as there are more products made with soy alternatives becoming available everyday such as hemp milks etc.

Myths Debunked!

I hope this article has been informative and not too difficult to read, I have certainly enjoyed researching and writing it. These are but some of the negative myths surrounding veganism that are either untrue or twist words to make veganism seem like an impossible and unhealthy lifestyle. Both vegans and non vegans should be careful to monitor their health in today’s world, which is not as natural as you are led to believe, but as I have shown above veganism can certainly be a healthy lifestyle.

References:

Appleby, P., Roddam, A., Allen, N. & Key, T. (2007). Comparative fracture risk in vegetarians and nonvegetarians in EPIC-Oxford. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61, pp.1400-1406.

Atkinson, C., Frankenfeld, C.L. & Lampe, J.W. (2005). Gut Bacterial Metabolism of the Soy Isoflavone Daidzein: Exploring the Relevance to Human Health. Experimental Biology and Medicine 230(3), pp.155-170.

Bedford J.L. & Barr, S.I. (2011). Higher Urinary Sodium, a Proxy for Intake, Is Associated with Increased Calcium Excretion and Lower Hip Bone Density in Healthy Young Women with Lower Calcium Intakes. Nutrients 3(11), pp.951-961.

Clarys, P., Deliens, T., Huybrechts, I., Deriemaeker, P., Vanaelst, B., De Keyzer, W., Hebbelinck, M. & Mullie, P. (2014). Comparison of Nutritional Quality of the Vegan, Vegetarian, Semi-Vegetarian, Pesco-Vegetarian and Omnivorous Diet. Nutrients 6(3), pp.1318-1332.

Constantinou, A.I., White, B.E.P., Tonetti, D., Yang, Y., Liang, W., Li, W. & Van Breemen, R.B. (2005). The soy isoflavone daidzein improves the capacity of tamoxifen to prevent mammary tumours. European Journal of Cancer 41(4), pp.647-654.

Craig, W.J. (2009). Health effects of vegan diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89(5), pp.1627S-1633S.

Fuhrman, J. & Ferreri, D.M. (2010). Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete. Current Sports Medicine Reports 9(4), pp.233-241.

Hamilton-Reeves, J.M., Vazquez, G., Duval, S.J., Phipps, W.R., Kurzer, M.S. & Messina, M.J. (2010). Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Fertility and Sterility 94(3), pp.997-1007.

Kerstetter J.E., O’Brien, K.O. & Insogna, K.L. (2003). Low Protein Intake: The Impact on Calcium and Bone Homeostasis in Humans. Journal of Nutrition 133(3), pp.855S-861S.

Krajcovicova-Kudlackova, M., Babinska, K. & Valachovicova, M. (2005). Health Benefits and Risks of Plant Proteins. Bratisl Lek Listy 106(6/7), pp.231-234.

Lee, M.M., Gomez, S.L., Chang, J.S., Wey, M., Wang, R-T. & Hsing, A.W. (2003). Soy and Isoflavone Consumption in Relation to Prostate Cancer Risk in China. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 12(7), pp.665-668.

Maskarinec, G., Morimoto, Y., Hebshi, S., Sharma, S., Franke, A.A. & Stanczyk, F.Z. (2006). Serum prostate-specific antigen but not testosterone levels decrease in a randomized soy intervention among men. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 60, pp.1423-1429.

McCarty, M.F. (1999). Vegan Proteins May Reduce Risk of Cancer, Obesity, and Cardiovascular Disease by Promoting Increased Glucagon Activity. Medical Hypotheses 53(6), pp.459-485.

Pilšáková, L., Riečanský, I. & Jagla, F. (2010). The Physiological Actions of Isoflavone Phytoestrogens. Physiological Research 59(5), pp.651-664.

Ravindranath, M.H., Muthugounder, S., Presser, N. & Viswanathan, S. (2004). Anticancer therapeutic potential of soy isoflavone, genistein. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 546, pp.121-165.

Sanders, T.A.B. (1988). Growth and Development of British Vegan Children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 48(3), pp.822-825.

Stewart, L. (2013). Mineral Supplements for Beef Cattle. University of Georgia, viewed 31 July 2016, http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=B895#Bioavailability

Wirnitzer, K.C. & Kornexl, E. (2014). Energy and macronutrient intake of a female vegan cyclist during an 8-day mountain bike stage race. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent) 27(1), pp.42-45.

Young, V.R. & Pellett, P.L. (1994). Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. American journal of clinical nutrition 59(5), pp.1203S-1212S.

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Political Veganism

As the vegan movement grows it is important that we do not lose sight of what is truly important and realise the potential of political veganism. We cannot allow ourselves to become dazzled by diet book celebrities and wonder workouts or we risk representing veganism as just another edgy trend. We must instead focus on the ways in which veganism can be promoted as the only way to achieve a sustainable future, and this should be done by making environmental benefits and emotional intelligence the forefront of the movement.

With this in mind, a crucial aspect of the vegan movement is in fact to understand its role as a political power. We may not at first realise how veganism fits in with politics, however the more experience we gain as vegans, the more we can see how its core values may be applied to change the face of political landscapes across the globe.

Firstly we must come to terms with what exactly the vegan movement as a whole stands for in terms of politically attributable characteristics:

  • A call for serious societal change:

When we fight in the name of veganism, we are voicing our concerns for the way the world has been configured. The social and political constructions that have dictated thought and behaviour for so long are outdated, and we are calling for serious change. As education and access to information becomes ever more readily available we are becoming far more aware of the inner workings of our world, and so far we aren’t happy with what we have seen. By fighting as vegan activists we are becoming the change we want to see in the world, and we should be educating others as to why this change is the best course of action. Put simply, we are expressing why we aren’t happy with the way the world works and as the movement grows more and more people take notice, and thus our political strength grows.

  • An extremely powerful tool for achieving environmental sustainability:

As we all know, being vegan is considered the most sustainable way to live. However, many people don’t realise the impact this information can have on influencing environmental change. From personal experience I have found that the most effective way to promote veganism is to exploit the selfishness of others by putting them face to face with the environmental destruction they are supporting. By showing them that they are actively jeopardising their way of life, many people are visibly shaken by the news. (If you need some more information as to how veganism is essential from an environmentalist perspective check out my video)

  • Opposing the industrialisation of living beings:

For me the importance soon shifted from a simple opposition to meat onto the depreciation of living beings into coldly calculated units of somatic value. The treatment of non-human animals as stock is deeply disturbing and a worrying reflection of the human attitude towards life in general. If the lives of other species are so undervalued, there is no wonder that humans continue to harm and kill each other. I’m not suggesting that if the world went vegan there would be no more wars (the human race is far too stupid to achieve world peace, come on Homo sapiens prove me wrong!), but it would be naive to think that it wouldn’t make people appreciate the lives of others. Not to mention the fact that the physical industrialisation of the animal product industry is completely unnatural even from an agricultural perspective.

  • Taking charge as consumers:

The power to change the global market rests with the consumers, but many people don’t realise just how much influence they can have by promoting or avoiding certain products or companies. Vegans boycott one of the, if not the, most destructive industries on the planet and have had a surprisingly large impact which shows that we do indeed hold the power; if we don’t buy their products, they will stop selling them.

  • The link between personal health and national budgets:

As scientific research increasingly suggests; animal products can cause a multitude of health issues. So by letting people know that living healthily as a vegan is not only achievable but actually preferable, we can actually push for positive change on a medical level. It’s no secret that health organisations around the world are under serious strain, but I believe that veganism could help relieve some of that strain. This inhabits an interesting area on the political landscape, as there could be friction between the interests of public health and the profits of pharmaceutical companies (but I’m not here to talk about medical conspiracies!).

  • The importance of emotional intelligence:

This may seem a little more abstract than the previous points, but I think it is important nonetheless. It’s no surprise to hear that the future is progressive, and one of the desirable characteristics we need to pursue this future is strong emotional intelligence. This becomes increasingly important when we consider the intersectionality between veganism and other progressive ideologies such as feminism, LGBTQ rights and disability rights movements.

So What Does This Mean?

The vegan movement needs to use these points to its advantage to establish itself firmly on the international stage as a strong and growing force. By promoting the areas that appeal most to the general populace on a political and social level, we can reinforce the positive and desirable representation of veganism.

The issue at the moment is that the vegan movement is suffering an identity crisis caused by deep internal conflicts, which quite frankly are not helping at all. One side is fighting for animals and the environment and the other for self improvement and bodily enhancements, the latter of which is unfortunately the more widely represented as the face of the vegan movement. Now I’m not saying that self improvements and diets etc. are a bad thing, they do get people’s attention, but they shouldn’t be the driving force of the movement because they lack depth. Diets and workout plans may be eye catching  but they rarely lead to long term commitments and change, so using them to represent the vegan movement is hardly a smart move. The vegan movement needs to secure its identity by rearranging priorities to put forward its core values of ethical living and environmental sustainability.

The next step would be to make sure veganism is being promoted in the most effective way, this means applying more pressure through bottom up approaches as well producing vegans with training to push for top down changes through the likes of scientific studies and political activism. By tackling both the general populace and institutions simultaneously we can ensure the effective promotion of veganism as a popular and endorsed ideology.

These are just a few ideas that I have had on the subject and there is plenty of room to expand these thoughts, so if you have any ideas please feel free to share them below and tell me what you think of the idea of political veganism.

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