Della: vegan, socially responsible accessories and tech cases! »
Della is a socially responsible fashion line that provides jobs, education and skills training to women and men of Hohoe, Ghana. So the company sounds pretty amazing, but the bags also look super cute! And I just so happen to need a little sleeve for my bitty work computer! AND 30% of all sales for THIS WEEK are being donated to PETA! It’s DESTINY. So I bought this cute vintage coral one. I’m in love.
No really, this is just what I was looking for. I have a giant bag with a big open interior. So far, I just shove my work macbook in when I need to bring it home but I’m always like, “this seems like the worst idea ever.” Well, never no more! I now have a perfect responsibly-made macbook sleeve to protect it.
And as I was saying, the company looks really awesome. It was started by an LA designer and an entrepreneur in Ghana as a way to help the women of the Hohoe community. The women who make the Della products not only make a fair wage, they also take classes in literacy and finance. You can read all about it on their site. Here’s a little peek inside the company:
This is Matilda’s horned viper, a newly discovered species living in Tanzania and named for the daughter of Wildlife Conservation Society’s Tanzania Program director! It will soon be classified as “critically endangered” because logging and charcoal manufacture have “severely degraded” the snake’s habitat. Awesome job, snake-discoverers, but an overall BOO to humanity, because we are so good at fucking things up we can endanger animals without even knowing they exist.
[photo by Tim Davenport, a.k.a Matilda’s dad]
HE’S TOO CUTE! I want one! Look at those eyes.
This is a photo by David Yarrow of one of the 13 baby gorillas born in 2011 as part of a breeding program in Central Africa’s Virunga Volcano Region. Good work, gorillas! Get your freak on!
I love gorillas! And gorillas always make me wonder how people can think you can’t be strong on a plant-based diet. Look at mountain gorillas! They eat a bunch of plants and they are hella strong! Yes, these giants are pretty much herbivores. They eat leaves, shoots, flowers, bark, roots and fruit. They also eat some bugs, it’s about 0.1 percent of their diet—so not a significant amount by any means. All that muscle feeds on plants!
[The Sun link was the only one I could find about the 2011 census so if anyone has a better source, let me know.]
This video documents the transportation of super-duper-endangered black rhinoceroses from the Eastern Cape of South Africa to a location 1,500 miles away in Limpopo province. Yes, it looks pretty scary, but it is supposedly the all-around best way to transport big animals like rhinos, and the 19 of them that were moved, via the World Wildlife Federation's Black Rhino Expansion Project, all made it safely.
Reading the details of this project on the Vimeo page is highly recommended! It was quite complicated, involving four organizations and many, many individuals, all to protect the seventh black rhino population established by WWF.
The overall populations of white and black rhinos are finally increasing, but this week the western black rhino was declared extinct, and the northern white rhino “on the brink of extinction.” It seems like these kinds of actions, which seem scary and extreme, are necessary to preserve the rhinoceroses in the wild.
Baby elephants playing soccer?! Hold the mother-loving phone. I can’t believe people kill elephants! Save the elephants!
(Sorry if this plays a commercial before the video but this was too cute not to share. If it didn’t play a commercial, I’m not sorry. JK, I wasn’t really sorry before. OK OK I was, you know I love you.)
Ivory poaching, elephant murder on the increase in Africa »
Vanity Fair has a great big article about the increase in illegal ivory trade in Africa. It’s horrible. You should read it; I’m not going to recap the whole thing here. You can have some low-lights* first, though.
Across Africa, “roughly 100 elephants are being killed each day.” Profits from ivory sales fund terrifying rebel groups, just like jewel- and ore-mining. The biggest markets for ivory right now is in East Asia, in particular China, and the Middle East. When smuggled ivory is seized, its DNA is sequenced so authorities can tell where its elephant came from. From this, we’ve learned that the ivory trade has increased everywhere in Africa that Chinese workers are.
The best paragraph:
Obviously, no ivory should be sold, legally or illegally. It has to be taken off the table completely. You can’t keep feeding the demand and providing incentives to poor Africans to continue killing their elephants. That—and educating the Chinese—is the only hope for the remaining ones in the wild. All of Africa needs to follow the lead of Kenya, which burned its ivory stock in 1989. As he ignited the 12 tons of tusks, thus depriving the government of millions of dollars of revenue, in a huge conflagration that remains the single most important event in the history of the battle for the elephants, then president Daniel arap Moi declared, “To stop the poacher, the trader must also be stopped, and to stop the trader, the final buyer must be convinced not to buy ivory. I appeal to people all over the world to stop buying ivory.”
Zimbabwe wants to feed prisoners elephant. People go on safari to shoot elephants. Most elephants, though, are killed because drought and poverty combined with the big ivory market have made killing them one of the only ways to earn money. Elephants are goddamn mystical, and murdering them is a terrible act of inhumanity. Read this entire article, cry your eyes out, be glad you’re not so poor that you resort to ruining the world to feed yourself. Jesus.
*Like highlights, but depressing.
[photo by brittanyhock via flickr]
Feeding baby elephants to inmates? What kind of fuckery is this? »
[Can’t see the video? Watch on Vegansaurus.com]
I’m posting the video above to illustrate what complicated and emotional animals elephants are. The video is about a poor little baby elephant that lost its family and is totally depressed. Elephants have strong feelings of mourning and loss and as sad as this baby is, I imagine it’s got to be at least that traumatic for an adult elephant to lose a calf.
Why am I talking about this? Because there is a proposition in Zimbabwe to cull baby elephants and feed them to prisoners. The world is going crazy!
Wildlife conservationists are not into this plan. From the Zimbabwe Independent:
Johnny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force slammed the proposal, arguing that the move would result in the extinction of elephants and in the long result in the “killing” of the tourism industry.
He said: “This is the most dangerous thing that they will be doing if approved. One of the biggest foreign currency earners in the country is tourism. How then can we steal from our own heritage? Why are we selling our future heritage down the drain? We should be looking after these intelligent animals so that they are not killed. Government should actually be putting in harsh laws to protect these animals.”
Rodrigues said despite claims by authorities that there were 100,000 elephants in the country, the number had gone down to less than 35,000.
I don’t know shit about the Zimbabwe prison system and it sounds like it is not a good situation (that seems to be a theme in prison systems) but really? Baby elephants? There has got to be an alternative. Some reports are saying the prisoners haven’t had meat in four years—I haven’t had meat in 11 and I’m just fine! But seriously, I don’t feel bad for them, not for lack of meat that is (I generally feel bad for prisoners because I’m always worried they were innocent. Hurricane, guys, HURRICANE). You don’t need meat to reach any nutritional requirements prisoners are lacking. I feel like this really comes from some idea that people have a god-given right to have meat, like it’s abusive to deny people meat. That whole concept is ridiculous. There’s a lot of abuse that goes on in prisons but making people eat vegetarian is not one of them.
I don’t have a solution but come on, there has to be something else they can do! They could be trailblazers with some innovative sustainable farming set-up! Though according to the Independent, they don’t have enough money for prison uniforms so I don’t know if that’s feasible but it could be cool! And pay for itself in the long run! Maybe Amnesty International can step in or something! Just ANYTHING besides culling baby mother-loving elephants, please. For goodness’ sake.
I officially proclaim this cake a celebratory symbol of the mountain gorilla population explosion in eastern Africa!
Also: their website design rules. Take a peek.
Mountain gorilla population increases! Maybe we aren’t going to hell! »
Dead animals got you down? How about some good news! The population of mountain gorillas in eastern Africa has increased by 26 percent since 2003! Damn, gorillas! Get your freak on!
A census conducted by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme in collaboration with several other organizations reports that there are now 480 mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif region of eastern Africa. That means there are 100 more gorillas alive today than in 2003, for a total of 786 mountain gorillas in the world!
All right, I’m depressed again. I didn’t realize that “critically endangered species” meant there were so few mountain gorillas! Less than 1,000? Jeez. And critically endangered is some serious shit. But let’s not get too depressed! They still managed to hugely increase their population in a remarkably short time. Threats to the mountain gorilla include poaching, habitat loss and even war. Head over to the World Wildlife Fund gorilla help page to see what you can do.
You know guys, mountain gorillas are herbivores, save for a bug here and there. And mountain gorillas are stronger than any old meat-eating human! If our close genetic relatives the gorillas can subsist on a plant-based diet, maybe it’s not so “natural” that people eat meat? I know bonobos are our closest relatives and they eat some animals but a mountain gorilla could totally destroy a bonobo! Why? Because vegans dominate!
[photo by mrflip]
Guest post: A vegan in Africa! »
If you’re like me, (and since you’re here I’ll assume you’re at least a little like me), you like animals. You’re even more like me if you hate stupid zoos and much prefer viewing creatures in their natural habitat, running free, wind in their fur or reptilian skin or whatever. Where best to do this? Africa! It’s been my dream forEVER to go on safari in Africa, and this summer I finally went. I mean, there are a gazillion animals there, and you don’t even need to get all National Geographic, camping-out-for-days-in-abandoned-rodent-burrows to see them; basically, you just show up. As soon as I booked my flight, however, I heard the voice in my head say, “What are you going to eat, you dummy? They only serve antelope and alligator over there!” And it’s true that they do serve both those things with alarming frequency, I’m happy to report that being vegan in Africa ain’t so hard! I’ll show you.
View of Capetown’s V&A Waterfront from our room at the Cape Grace Hotel.
My first stop on the trip was Capetown, South Africa, which is basically just San Francisco. Seriously, it bears a striking resemblance to my wonderful hometown: the light, the mountains all around, the fog, the bay complete with an old jail on an island—it was just like being at home, except for all the nasty biltong. Yuck. Anyway, should you find yourself within like 500 miles of Capetown you must stay at the Cape Grace Hotel. No room in the budget for such swankiness? At least save up R550 ($75 U.S.) per person for the insanely amazing vegan tasting menu at the hotel’s restaurant, Signal. That’s the price WITH wine, people. You get five courses, plus a sorbet palate cleanser halfway through (can’t have dirty palates, now can we?), and a different, super-yummy South African wine with each course. It was hard to keep up, but somehow I managed (read: got DRUNK). From the beet carpaccio to the miso risotto, I promise your taste buds have never had it so good. And at the end you get this insane chocolate tart for dessert, complete with a sugar orb full of sorbet! What?! Yes.
Pretty sure this dessert is made exclusively of magic.
That dinner at Signal was one of our first meals in Africa, so we set the bar stratospherically high, but the rest of the food was good too! In Capetown, most places know what vegan is and can accommodate you. Plus there are tons of Turkish and Indian and Asian places that always have at least something vegan-by-default on the menu. Outside of South Africa, it’s a little tougher, but not much. If you’re going on safari (hello, that’s why you’re here right?) then just make super-duper sure to let your outfitter know in advance about your awesomeness. When I was researching the trip, not a single company I talked to told me they couldn’t feed me. They were all happy to make it work. You are paying money, after all! In the end, I went with Sanctuary Lodges, staying at two of their camps in Botswana and one in Uganda. All three were ridiculous—animals everywhere, fantastic guides, breathtaking sunsets—and at all three I was very well fed at every meal. The chefs went out of their way to include me, even going so far as to bake special vegan biscuits (using olive oil instead of butter) for afternoon tea. Man, life ruled on vacation.
Tea time treats including olive oil biscuits in the back.
What’s also super-cool is that in Uganda you can see the endangered mountain gorillas. It costs a shitload, but all the money goes to help protect them, which is (DUH) totally important!
Mountain gorillas have been habituated to humans, but still very much wild.
Uganda also has tons of great Indian food because it used to have tons of people from the Indian subcontinent (before batshit crazy Idi Amin expelled nearly the entire population), which makes eating there pretty easy. Same goes for Kenya, where we stayed with some friends, and which was our penultimate stop on the trip. (Normally I would have just said “second-to-last” but our last stop was so the motherfucking ULTIMATE that it makes sense!)
Curries like this chickpea version are abundant in Uganda and Kenya.
While in Kenya, we only had time to stay in Nairobi, but just like Capetown and other big cities, there was plenty of ex-pat cuisine with vegan items (pizza sans cheese, salads, hummus, etc) so it was no problem. However, due to my not-so-with-it friends, I also found myself at the most horrific place EVER while in Nairobi: a place no vegan should ever know about, let alone visit: Carnivore, the restaurant. Word on the street is that this monstrosity used to serve zebra and cheetah and other wild animals. Now that such things are frowned upon (um, hooray!) the most exotic dish is ostrich. Still, ugh. But, rather than stay in the car and cry, I decided to see what vegan things Carnivore could dish up. Honestly? They did all right! I had a great salad and some curried veggies with plain rice. It still made me mad. I mean, I know so many people who just think it’s too hard to be vegan where they live, and I had a vegan meal at a restaurant called freakin’ CARNIVORE in the middle of Kenya!
Nothing like a good veggie burger to calm your rage.
Want to know how to alleviate frustration like that? Go lay on the beach for five days at the most insanely wonderful, all-inclusive resort where they bring you your every vegan desire (“Champagne and veggie burgers for lunch today, Mrs. Chari?” Surely! “An Arabic feast, complete with hookah delivered to your bungalow?” Of course!) while you lounge in the Indian Ocean wondering however on this planet you got so goddamn lucky. Yeah, that’s how we ended the trip, at Maya in the Seychelles. I know not everyone can do this and I know how blessed I am to have been able to go. Seriously, if you can get there, you will be renewed, re-energized, and catered to beyond your wildest imaginations. They heard we were vegan, and their response was, basically: OK, tell us what you want to eat every day and we’ll make it. Ahhh.
So there you have it. I managed to spend a month traveling around Africa without missing a single meal. Even better, I got to see the animals I love in their homes, and I met many people who are dedicated to keeping them safe. It was life-changing—and I’m already planning my next trip. Who’s in? I mean, baby elephants are CUTE!!!
See? Cute overload.
Sky Chari hails from NJ, so it’s surprising that she bears no resemblance to Snookie (unless she goes on a carrot juice-bender, in which case Sky too can get a little orange). She enjoys traveling this kick-ass world of ours almost as much as she loves eating good vegan food, but she is also quite content to stick around San Francisco, where she’s lived for 10 years, perfecting the art of trying new restaurants and overstaying her welcome at tried-and-true favorites. Read more about her adventures here.