vegansaurus!

05/29/2014

Animal testing doesn’t work, here’s a friendly cartoon to explain why  »

imageBesides being unconscionable, animal testing is not reliable. And now, thanks to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, we have this handy video to explain why animal testing is not the answer. The only animals you will see abused in this video are cartoon animals, so this does not get a graphic warning at all (though I was sad when they took the mousy away from his friend). 

Ok it’s your turn to help! Come on now, this will be SO easy:

1. Sign this petition!

2. SHARE THIS VIDEO WITH EVERYONE! And you can tell them it’s not graphic. People are scared of graphic stuff. 

05/13/2014

Male scientists stress out otherwise super-chill lab rats, or Why animal testing is the wackness  »

From Flickr user Feistea.

New findings show that male scientists may cause stress to rats and mice, resulting in different test results than female scientists achieve (warning: I don’t know the full extent of shiz they are doing to these poor animals but they seem to know a lot about their pain threshold): 

In research published online April 28 in Nature Methods, the scientists report that the presence of male experimenters produced a stress response in mice and rats  equivalent to that caused by restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing them to swim for three minutes. This stress-induced reaction made mice and rats of both sexes less sensitive to pain. Female experimenters produced no such effects.

And it’s not just pain (shudder! Ugh, why do they know so much about what causes them pain!), “the researchers found that other behavioural assays sensitive to stress were affected by male but not female experimenters or T-shirts.”

There’s “good news” though!

The problem is easily solved by simple changes to experimental procedures. For example, since the effect of males’ presence diminishes over time, the male experimenter can stay in the room with the animals before starting testing.  At the very least, published papers should state the gender of the experimenter who performed the behavioral testing.

Hmm. I can think of a better solution. How about we not test on animals at all?! Yay!

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From flickr user Halfabear.

But seriously, animal testing is so flawed. First of all, I doubt these mice and rats aren’t generally stressed. So maybe they are going through these tests with super pain-resilience all the time. But that’s just one of a plethora of issues. Take a look at what one writer for the Guardian had to say:

I analysed in detail 27 systematic reviews examining the contributions of animal experiments to human healthcare. Their outcomes are remarkably consistent. Animal studies rarely contribute to the development of clinical interventions effective in human patients.

It’s not hard to fathom why. Animals have a plethora of genetic, biochemical and physiological differences that alter disease progression, drug uptake, distribution and effect. Stressful environments and experiments are common, and distort outcomes. Additionally, numerous studies have revealed scientific flaws in the design of many animal experiments.

The moral of the story: ANIMALS AREN’T PEOPLE. They respond to treatments and experiments differently! And while some studies may save human lives, check this out: 

Modern drugs are more carefully studied than ever before. After lengthy tests on animals, those considered safe, and potentially effective, enter very limited human trials. About 92% are then weeded out and deemed unsafe or ineffective.

The remaining 8% are some of the most closely scrutinised compounds on the planet. You might be forgiven, therefore, for assuming they are safe. But at least 39 studies over three decades have ranked adverse drug reactions as an important cause of hospital deaths. Only heart disease, cancer and stroke are more reliably lethal.

Slate chimes in too: 

just how often do animal tests predict side effects in humans? Surprisingly, although it is central to the legitimacy of animal testing, only a dozen or so scholars over the past 30 years have explored this question. The results, such as they are, have been somewhat discouraging. One of the scientists, Ralph Heywood, stated in 1989 that “there is no reliable way of predicting what type of toxicity will develop in different species to the same compound.” The concordance between man and animal toxicity tests, he said, assessing three decades of studies on the subject, was somewhere below 25 percent. “Toxicology,” concluded Heywood, “is a science without a scientific underpinning.”

Dude. If the main argument is that animal testing saves human lives, I say we have a problem. I can go on—or rather PCRM can—but the point is, animal testing is not the great life-saving necessary evil it’s painted to be.

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Fun with false dichotomies. 

But whether it saves human lives or not, the bottom line is it’s just not ethical. To be honest, I do care more about people than animals. If I could only save a human baby or a puppy—in some bizarre world where I ever actually have to make this choice—I would pick the baby. I’m not totally sure why but I think I would. BUT just because I value humans more than animals, I don’t think that means we can just do whatever we want to animals. Feel free to correct my reasoning but the way I think about it is like how I, without a doubt, care more about my sister than your sister. If one of them had to die, I would rather it was your sister. Truthbomb. But I don’t think that means we should go doing experiments on your sister because it might save my sister’s life! 

Thinking that another being is lesser and therefore you can do with them what you will is exactly why people did horrible experiments on jewish captives in nazi Germany or people of color in America. It’s just wrong. 

05/15/2013

Did you know: PCRM has a vegan-food-only office!  »

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PCRM! Sometimes amazing, sometimes embarrassing, but always working toward a vegan world, which we can certainly appreciate. And in service of that goal, the organization has a vegan-food-only office policy, which the Washington Post reported on this week for … reasons.

PCRM has also piloted vegan eating programs at other workplaces in the Washington area. In one instance, they worked with a group of employees at Geico’s Chevy Chase headquarters. The nonprofit asked the insurance group to adopt a vegan diet and offered them weekly instruction on how to make healthy, tasty and cost-effective vegan choices. After 22 weeks, they compared employees in that group to Geico employees who hadn’t received the training. The vegan group lost more weight, reported improved physical health and said they saw a decrease in food costs.

Of course people are always yapping about how veganism will MAKE YOU THIN at which point YOU WILL WIN LIFE, which is a dumb lie. But are we going to criticize a cruelty-free office kitchen? Of course not. Health vegans, we love you too. Everyone’s welcome on team vegan.

[Photo by Justina Davies via Flickr]

(Source: Washington Post)

03/08/2013

Cosmetic animal testing banned in the European Union!  »

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That’s right! As of March 11, “the marketing, import, and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and their ingredients will no longer be legal in the EU.” Congratulations to PCRM, who did a lot of work lobbying for the ban, and here’s to passing a similar ban in the U.S. Cosmetics don’t need to be tested on animals any longer. Science has moved beyond it; here’s hoping we can move society beyond it, too.

[Photo by Ahmad Hashim via Flickr]

01/10/2013

U.S. military must stop medical animal tests!  »

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In its medical training courses, the United States military uses (read: kills) over 7,500 animals every year. This is unnecessary and pretty gross. Of course, the military industrial complex is terrifying (hi, FISA extension!), the official and covert wars conducted in our name are horrific (hey Afghanistan! what’s up, CIA drones?), and the way we treat our veterans is shameful (sorry, dogs; at least there’s IAVA?). But at least we won’t be paying for people to torture pigs and goats, right? Per PCRM:

The massive National Defense Authorization Act, approved last month by the Senate and House of Representatives, contains a provision that calls on the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress by March 1, 2013, on a strategy, including a detailed timeline, for replacing the use of animals with human-based methods. Last night, the president signed the bill into law.

So they’re not going to immediately stop so much as make a plan for stopping, eventually.  Still, better than letting it go on indefinitely, funded by our tax dollars. Isn’t it nice when the government helps ease the burden of complex, tacit social hypocrisy involved in trying live a cruelty-free life?

[Photo by thechoserebel via Flickr]

03/29/2012

Wow. PCRM, you’ve outdone yourself. Apparently this is some attention-seeking gimmick they proposed to American Airlines. Well, congrats, here’s your attention: you’re super fucking low. I personally feel bullied by this commercial. Seriously, you’re scumbags. 

So the message is that meat makes you fat and people that eat meat are fat. So calling a bunch of people fat is how you gain…what, exactly? I’m guessing contempt. And they claim they are all about health but we’re talking about elbow room? Where’s the health message? 

If I’m the vegan an omnivore gets seated next to, do they get their $10 back because I’m not skinny? Really they should have to pay $20 to sit next to a fat vegan—we have all the best snacks!

For real, this is sickening. It makes me not want to be vegan. Or at the very least, it makes me question ever using PCRM as a source for information. I used to refer people to their site a lot for info about animal testing and now I’d just be so embarrassed to do that. The cheese ads were bad but I wasn’t going to dismiss the organization completely for one fucked up campaign. But if this is their thing now? No, I don’t want to be associated with a bunch of bullying lowlifes. 

02/17/2012

Top 10 links of the week!: A harlem shuffle through the dance floor of veganism!  »

Scary rooster Puff has it in for kitty Blacko! This is kind of sad. 

Grist’s Protein Angst series is still killing it! My new favorite: Never mind the meat—worry about eating enough plants. This is what I’m always thinking! Like, dude, I get enough protein, do you get enough veggies?! There is so much concern over our nutrients but I’d bet meat-mouths are not hitting all the nutritional points!

A whole town in India relocated to make room for tigers! That’s nice. 

McDonald’s thinks trying their food is less risky than petting stray pitbulls. People are not pleased. But I’m glad our standards are now risky and less risky. Obviously they are implying you may get bit by a dog; generally I want my food to be on an entirely different scale than getting bit by a dog—not just less “risky.”

From Ecouterre, fur trapping season ends with record high of non-target animal deaths. That means exactly what you think it means.

Choosing Raw has another great post on PCRM and fat-shaming (though we discourage the use of “overweight” as it maintains there is a specific weight you should be). Gena stresses the need to focus on using “honest language, honest facts, and honest statistics.” Here here!

Australia is up in arms over recent footage documenting inhumane conditions in a Sydney slaughterhouse. You can see the video on the linked page. It’s pretty rugged. The one good thing though is it seems like Australia actually does stuff when footage like this surfaces. The slaughterhouse in question was immediately closed (I don’t know if it was permanently closed but still, swift action).

An NYT editorial calls for humane national standards in egg production!

You know we’ve been discussion palm oil lately, well Grist is here to help you break free of the palm oil grasp!

From HuffPo, you may have already heard about this but if not: Westminster severed ties with Pedigree because they didn’t want to see images of puppies behind bars during commercial breaks. Stay classy, Westminster!

From Ecorazzi, Ian Somerhalder (see below) is getting an award from the Humane Society! I have an award for him too! IN MY PANTS. Sorry guys, I can’t help it, he’s the hotness times god damn. 

02/08/2012

PCRM defends their ridiculous cheese thighs campaign  »


We posted last week about PCRM’s* idiotic cheese campaign and just hoped it would go away, but they’re back this week with even more ridiculousness. Neal Barnard, founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, wasn’t content with spreading crap on his own site; he wants to infest the rest of the internet with his rationalizations. Barnard’s piece on Crazy Sexy Life is super-disappointing and filled with hateful rhetoric disguised as caring. Moreover, so much of this shit is ludicrous coming from someone who is a PSYCHIATRIST—aren’t you supposed to care about the emotional wellbeing of others? I feel bad for anyone who was under his psychiatric care. BUT MOVING ON.

Here’s the deal with this campaign: If PCRM wanted to tackle the issue of clogged arteries from animal cholesterol, why not show that? Because people of ALL sizes deal with it, and it’s HONEST. Oh, yes, but it’s not as provocative as the big belly.

What REALLY sucks about this campaign is that it sounds reasonable and supportive, but it’s actually the same old crap (“I’m not racist, but…”). The hypocrisy of Barnard’s “of course fat people shouldn’t be shamed because they’re HELPLESS VICTIMS OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY but we should totally SHAME FAT PEOPLE SO THEY STOP BEING HELPLESS VICTIMS OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY” approach — it’s so twisted! I’ll leave you with this bit of business that reader/occasional contributor/great person Rick Kelley left in the comments on our last post. It’s outstanding, and helps to explain exactly what’s so fucked about this tactic:

The “angle” these ads use — namely, “fat bodies are disgusting, so go vegan” — is shared with countless advertising campaigns selling every sort of bullshit imaginable, to all of our detriment. They posit a particular kind of “desirable body” and shame those who fail to attain it. Branding veganism as a weight loss strategy doesn’t do anyone any favors, and it doesn’t make new vegans (unless week-long fad dieters count). These ads have nothing to do with health, not anymore than some soap or deodorant company is committed to health (and a garden-fresh scent). No one is disputing the health benefits of a plant-based diet — Forks Over Knives is routinely embraced, recommended, and celebrated throughout vegan circles, most definitely on this site — but rather rejecting the notion that a “vegan brand” to sell “ethical eating” by way of a “stop being so fucking fat, fatties” campaign is anything but mean-spirited and counter-productive.

Here are a few reasons why, from the practical to the ethical:

(1) More than anything else, this resembles diet ads, and constructs veganism as a diet. Diets are by their nature temporary and end-goal oriented. If someone goes vegan to lose weight and they don’t, it seems unlikely they’d continue. If they do, it seems likely they’ll stop after they’ve attained their goal.

(2) Whether or not someone loses weight, the use and property-status of nonhumans isn’t remotely addressed, because there is no framework or analysis to understand it. You can go through a two-week vegan diet weight loss plan cloaked in fur and leather, occasionally shooting a dog, as easily as not.

(3) It’s alienating and reinforces notions of vegan exclusivity, superiority, and contempt for human animals.

(4) By playing into normative ideals of the human body, it reinforces patriarchal notions of beauty. Despite the inclusion of a male-presenting body in the ad, no one being at all serious would argue that advertising (including this one) primarily targets men. The idea here, as FUCKING EVERYWHERE, is that female-presenting bodies are by definition thin; if not, they are gross and in need of recuperation (i.e. shaming).

(5) By focusing on isolated, individual bodies (and certainly not whole bodies) outside of any world they might inhabit, it erases people’s lived experiences. It erases the fact that different cultures view bodies in different ways; it erases the realities of people’s access to healthy foods, which are enormously pre-determined by class structures; and it erases the most basic fact of all, which is that we live in these bodies we find ourselves in, the social value of which is determined by things often outside of our control (like fucking PCRM ads, apparently).

To end this manifesto/comment, I’d just point out that one thing a “vegan movement” (should it ever arrive) needs to do is to link nonhuman animal oppression with all the other oppressive structures that dominate our lives (like patriarchy, class oppression, racism, rigid systems of normative ideals, capitalist marketing as a means of social change, etc.). Damaging nonsense like this hurts that future effort.

SING IT!

I encourage PCRM (and really everyone ever) to read Health at Every Size, learn about our so-called “Obesity Epidemic,” and read up on the big business of fat hate. I wrote this same shit to PETA last year but you know, since PETA and PCRM are literally in bed together (UGH MY EYES! Seriously, picturing that just sent shivers down my spine), it can’t hurt to remind them. Show compassion for everyone and work on effective campaigns that breed love and respect for all. THE END.

*PCRM has such great campaigns, why are they focusing energy and money on this one? My experience is that Animal Rights groups that focus on too many campaigns just do them all poorly. Why not work on one thing and do it really, really well?

01/27/2012

To be a healthy vegan, focus on…wait for it…health!  »


Laura has already registered her disappointment (OK, rage) at the new ad campaign from PCRM, which employs fat-shaming as a means to scare people off cheese. This campaign ignores all the good reasons why we should skip cheese—its production involves animal cruelty, eating it is not particularly good for us—and instead goes for a cheap shot at chubby thighs.

The awesome Ginny Messina already addressed why going vegan only to get skinny is likely to lead to disappointment, but she’s followed up with an article that I think is also worth mentioning here. Messina’s post for One Green Planet, The 7 Habits of Healthy Vegans, does a great job of focusing on vegan health regardless of size. Her suggestions apply to everyone—we could all be a bit healthier by eating legumes more often, choosing whole grains, and loading up on veggies. 

I actually did lose weight when I became vegetarian, and I also lost weight when I had to give up gluten. I didn’t lose any extra when I went vegan, but I had already changed my diet pretty drastically by then. Everyone is different. And I have no problem acknowledging that fitting into smaller pants felt great, but I could have gotten there a variety of ways; knowing that I was living my life according to my values and ethics has always felt better than skinny jeans. If you initially go vegan to lose weight and end up loving the lifestyle and learning more about how awesome it is, fabulous. But if your end goal is just a number on a scale, and you’re ignoring everything else that helps to keep us healthy and happy—mental health is part of that, too—then you’re not going to do well, no matter what your diet looks like.

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. We edit out all her extra vowels.

[photo by slightlypale via Flickr]

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