The bloodshed of the 2013 Canadian commercial seal hunt has begun »
Animated video from Humane Society International. It’s a cartoon, so it’s not graphic, but I’ll be damned if I’m not tearing up. That song!
It’s begun. The first seal of the 2013 Canadian commercial seal hunt was killed earlier today, according to the Humane Society. We’ve written a lot on the seal hunt in the past, so I don’t really have anything new to say. Sorry.
Exclusive Awesome Photos: Penguins And Seals In Antarctica! »
My aunt and uncle, who wish to remain anonymous, recently took an incredible trip to Antarctica and snagged some insanely cool pictures of Antartic animals! Enjoy, and let’s all be grateful for amazing aunts and uncles!
I have no words for the glory that is these images. Who wants go to Antarctica together while it’s still frozen?!
Here’s a handy infographic about Canada’s commercial seal slaughter from the Humane Society. Check out the whole thing.
Stupid seal slaughter. Makes me so sick! But damn it, I love an infographic. I wish we could go back to middle school and just learn everything through infographics. OR osmosis. Just kidding, I’d rather die than be thirteen again. Hang in there, tweens! It gets slightly kind of better.
Baby seal breaks into home, steals hearts! You heard it right: this ridiculously adorable baby seal crawled through a cat door and made itself cozy on the couch in a New Zealand home. I am not kidding you!
If that is not great enough, while the SPCA was transporting the seal back to the ocean, it got out of the box they put it in and climbed up to the front of the truck, turned on the radio and chilled in the front seat. I am not kidding you!
Top 10 links of the week! A breezy ride through veganism! »
[your animal viral video of the week! I don’t understand what’s going on. Where is this? Is this like a private dolphin?]
I can tell you guys have big things to worry about but if you have time to care about the seal hunt, you should keep an eye on the Humane Society’s “Live from the Ice” reporting.
Yo, did you know there’s a debate about whether or not it’s ethical for vegans and vegetarians to eat mock meat? Me neither! This Dish is Veg has a post about it, read it and tell me what you think.
Some 20-year-old killed a cat to perfect her outfit for a Lady Gaga show. I don’t want to talk about it.
Treehugger has good news about the gorilla population in the Congo! Gorillas are just amazing. Like, you can’t not be amazed when you look at them. Plus, they’re nearly vegan (I hear sometimes they eat bugs)! They don’t eat cows and they still manage to be all strong and diesel.
If you didn’t get enough Laura this week, check out The Week in Vegan. She mentions Shakira, who rules. I’m sold. Read it and comment!
News gets cute this week: “Research shows that man’s best friend categorizes people as generous or mean by keeping tabs on how they treat others.” That’s how everyone’s dog knows YOU’RE the softy! Read all about it at the Daily Mail.
Read Ricky Gervais’ letter calling for the director of NIH to help 14 chimpanzees that have been sent to a research facility in Texas. Ricky Gervais is just the man. I don’t know what he could do to make me like him more but I think it would involve free vegan cinnamon rolls. Or roller-skates.
Wolves can’t catch a break. Groups are in the process of trying to de-list wolves as an endangered species in the Great Lakes area. The New York Times has the story. I’m getting fucking sick of this. It’s like, you almost wipe out a species and then after hard work, the species begins to flourish and then you want to kill them again. WTF?
Friends of Animals has a brief update on the wolf de-listing rider in the budget proposal. It’s on it’s way to the prez! Fucking awesome!
Dudes, I’m a huge Stooges fan and I love Iggy Pop so his speaking out against the disgusting seal hunt RULES. I love it when someone awesome does something awesome. It’s like making out with a rainbow!
Money is rarely a moral justification, even for bludgeoning cute animals »
The Canadian government comes up with a variety of ways to justify the seal slaughter but the one I’ve been thinking about lately is economic. From the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada: “Seals are a valuable natural resource, and the seal harvest is an economic mainstay for numerous rural communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North. As a time-honoured tradition, Canada’s seal harvest supports many coastal families who can derive as much as 35 percent of their annual income from this practice.” Already there you can see the language is a bit funny; the hunt “supports many coastal families” instead of something like “communities” or any reference to a large number of people. Then it also says these families “can derive as much as 35 percent of their annual income” from the hunt, so it’s also possible they derive 0 percent of their income from the hunt. Basically, they’ve said nothing. Nice one, G-men, you totally had me.
Regardless of how the Canadian government words it, those opposed to the seal hunt say the seal hunt is not an economic necessity. From the Humane Society: “Sealing is an off-season activity conducted by fishermen from Canada’s East Coast. They make, on average, 1/20th of their incomes from seal hunting and the rest from commercial fisheries. Even in Newfoundland, where most sealers live, income from the hunt accounts for less than 1 percent of the province’s economy and less than 2 percent of the landed value of the fishery. According to the Newfoundland government, out of a population of half a million people, fewer than 6,000 fishermen participate in the seal hunt each year.” More over, the International Fund for Animal Welfare claims the seal hunt costs taxpayers more than it earns and “makes no economic sense.”
It sounds like the Canadian government is just bullshitting, but maybe they aren’t. Let’s say the hunt does supply a significant income to many families; that doesn’t mean we should support it. The fact that people depend on a particular industry does not justify that industry morally—think about cigarettes. There are many, many people that are financially dependent on the cigarette industry. I don’t just mean the company owners, I mean the factory workers or the many small businesses that sell cigarettes. I don’t have the numbers but I’m guessing it’s a lot more people than 6,000. But what does that mean? Does that mean we should encourage smoking? And discourage people from quitting because it would have economic ramifications for the cigarette industry? No one (save Philip Morris) would ever accept that argument, but we’re supposed to ignore the brutality of the sealing hunt for the same reason?
Not all businesses make it; some aren’t viable and some aren’t justifiable: thems the breaks. We didn’t cry over the slap bracelet and scrunchy factories that closed—you don’t think people lost income from that? The truth is the seal hunt is plain wrong and no amount of money makes it right.
Canadian seal slaughter continues to blow »
It’s that time of year again, unfortunately: the Canadian seal hunt will soon be upon us. Hundreds of thousands of seals will be bludgeoned to death. It fucking sucks. From the Humane Society:
The Canadian government will allow the slaughter of 468,200 of harp, grey and hooded seals this year, an increase of 80,000 from 2010.
“The Harper government has declared war on Canada’s seals,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “Stephen Harper is playing regional politics in the lead-up to a federal election at the expense of hundreds of thousands of defenseless baby seals. Harp seals are ice-dependent animals and they are facing the devastating loss of their ice habitat because of climate change. A responsible government would take immediate action to protect this population rather than recklessly encouraging a commercial slaughter.”
The 2011 harp seal quota is the highest set since the Canadian government introduced quota management in 1971. Today’s kill levels meet and exceed those of the 1950s and 1960s, when overhunting reduced the harp seal population by as much as two-thirds.
There’s been some good developments in the boycott: “Twelve of America’s favorite celebrity chefs have joined the Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood. Richard Blais, Jennifer Carroll, Carla Hall, Mike Isabella, Jamie Lauren, Antonia Lofaso, Dale Levitski, Angelo Sosa, Dale Talde, Casey Thompson, Fabio Viviani, and Tre Wilcox, all participants on Bravo’s Top Chef All Stars, are teaming up with the HSUS in an effort to end Canada’s commercial seal slaughter.” (thanks for the tip, Anne H!) So that’s good! It’s nice to know that not everybody sucks. I still can’t believe people eat seal. That’s so gross! That’s like eating bunnies! Oh, wait.
Also, China is taking real steps to ban the trade of seal products in the country. What’s up with China lately? I know there was the terrible live animals in key-chains thing but for somewhere with previously almost zero animal protection laws, they’ve really been making some strides for animal rights! They banned animal circuses, which many supposedly animal-friendly countries haven’t done. And now this stuff with the seal trade. Kudos, China! Or however you say kudos in Mandarin.
Here, you can also check out this Humane Society search engine for restaurants that participate in the seal boycott. Find a place to go and tell them you are there because you support their decision to take a stand against this SUPER GROSS industry!!!
Interview with a vegan: Sonya Cotton! »
Sonya Cotton is a vegan and musician with a serious animal-rights agenda. She’s close to releasing a six-song EP and raising money for an eco-friendly tour through Kickstarter. Laura interviewed Sonya about her musical projects and vegan lifestyle, and why she dedicated her new album to her animal-rescuing mother.
Vegansaurus: Are you vegan for health, environmental, animal-rights reasons, or a combination?
Sonya Cotton: I’m vegan primarily for animal-rights reasons. The magnitude of animal suffering that goes on inside of the meat/dairy/egg industries is what hits me the hardest, and makes me want to cry/scream/do my part to change the world. The environmental impact of these mega-industries is also horrific, and a very compelling reason (totally independent of animal-rights issues) to go vegan in my opinion. Health doesn’t figure as much into the equation for me, though I know some people really stand behind the health benefits of veganism.
Vegansaurus: How long have you been vegan? Why did you become vegan?
Cotton: I was an on-and-off vegetarian for 12 years, starting when I was 15. Then last May when I was on tour with my band on the East Coast, we played a house show for a group called the Montclair Ethical Vegans. The woman who led that group asked me after the show if I was vegan. When I told her I wasn’t (just a vegetarian and an animal-lover) she gently yet passionately told me all the reasons why she choses veganism, and gave me an amazing book to take with me, called Ninety-Five (a reference to the number of animal lives saved in a year from one person going vegan). I remember reading this book, which chronicles individual lives of animals that were destined for the slaughterhouse but somehow found their way to sanctuaries instead. I connected with those stories so deeply, I was really rooting for each one of those creatures, and I remember saying out loud to my boyfriend: “I have to go vegan, I totally believe in this.” Then I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, which utterly sealed the deal for me. (To those of you out there who haven’t read Eating Animals, please do!)
Vegansaurus: When did you start writing and performing music?
Cotton: I wrote my first song in high school (an embarrassingly bad love song.) But I’ve been performing since I was pretty young. I remember singing “By My Side” (from Godspell) in sixth grade at an open-mic at my school. In my head I was singing it to my English teacher who I was in love with at the time, and who was leaving the school: “Where are you going? Will you take me with you?” Heavy! I also remember my first solo in Girlchoir in fifth grade. I got to sing a line from the song “Vine and Fig Tree” that goes: “And into ploughshares turn their swords, nations shall learn war no more.” Good stuff! I was hooked at a young age.
Vegansaurus: Do you write about animals or animal issues?
Cotton: Yes, I frequently do. I feel deeply inspired by and connected to animals that I see around me in my daily life, as well as animals that I read about. I’m often taken by their beauty, their nobility, their lack of self-consciousness, their pursuit of what I see as “truth” (i.e. survival/self-preservation and social connection/love as opposed to fame and excessive amounts of money/material goods.) On my last album, Red River, I sing a lot about the dead deer by the roadside, and all that that sight represents to me. I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey so for much of my life that was a very common sight for me. In my more recent songs I am trying to write more clearly and directly about animal welfare issues. I just finished a song about a pig born into a factory farm, and on my upcoming album there is a song where I speak pretty directly to some of the fucked up things people do to animals: hunting falcons solely for their feathers, destroying wolf and deer habitat to build mansions and raise cattle, etc. I also frequently express the flipside of my outrage, in other words, my reverence and my gratefulness for the wild animal life around me.
Vegansaurus: Your album is dedicated to your mom; please tell us more.
Cotton: My mother passed away a year and a half ago; she had cancer for just 10 months. I’ve struggled a lot with this loss, and writing songs for her/about her/inspired by her has felt like a poignant form of therapy for me as well as a meaningful tribute to her. So many people are struggling with similar feelings that I’m struggling with, either because of a death of a loved one, or some other kind of loss, and I hope this album reaches them, helps them, makes them feel less alone.
I should also share that my mom was an amazing advocate for animals throughout her life: She took in homeless dogs and cats; fostered shelter animals; worked to stop the deer hunt in my hometown and promote a more humane, nonlethal, form of population control; and worked internationally with a number of incredible organizations over the years, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare, working to stop the harbor seal hunt in Canada, and the farming of moon bears in China for their bile; New York City Audubon to preserve migratory bird populations; and most recently as the bird collisions campaign manager for the American Bird Conservancy.
Vegansaurus: Do you have any companion animals? Tell us all about them!
Cotton: There is an amazing cat named Buddy who lives in my house. His mom’s name is Lea, she’s my housemate. Buddy is a big beautiful guy; he’s often a blissed-out purring machine, so cute. But it kills me on a daily basis that I don’t have a dog in my life. As soon as I figure out how to live in a place that allows me to have a dog—dogs are not allowed in the house where I live—I’m going to foster a shelter dog. And then, once I have figured out how to be a touring musician that is also a responsible dog-owner, I’m going straight to a shelter and finding a dog who needs a permanent home. It’s going to be amazing. Until that day, I will continue walking/hanging out with dogs at Family Dog Rescue, a wonderful shelter in the city.
Vegansaurus: Do you have any super-cute photos of animals to share with us?
Cotton: Here is a picture of my family dog, Lorenzo, who passed away a couple of months ago. He was part of a litter of 10 puppies that my mom fostered when I was in 10th grade. My mom found homes for all of his nine brothers and sisters, but Lorenzo was returned to us twice! So we decided to keep him. He was such an amazing fellow, so handsome and spirited; I miss him.
Vegansaurus: What is your favorite animal? I know, this one is REALLY TOUGH.
Cotton: This is an impossible question! If I have to choose, I’m going to say…wolf.
Vegansaurus: Favorite vegan cookbook?
Cotton: There are a bunch of vegan cookbooks floating around my kitchen (there are four vegans in my house), and I like all of them, but I’m not so inspired by any one of them to call it my favorite. I think I need a favorite vegan cookbook in my life, that’d be great! Any suggestions?
Vegansaurus: What’s your favorite vegan dish to make? What about for a vegan bakesale?
Cotton: I love Brussels sprouts sautéed with onions, garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar. I also love kale and fried tofu over brown rice or whole wheat pasta with a peanut sauce. For a bakesale, the chocolate chip cookies from How It All Vegan! are so delicious! Yum.
Vegansaurus: Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant?
Cotton: I love the fresh imperial rolls at Sunflower (3111 16th St. at Valencia Street) affordable and delicious.
Vegansaurus: Favorite vegan restaurant?
Cotton: Souley Vegan.
Vegansaurus: Tell us about the Kickstarter Project. How can we support you?
Cotton: I launched a Kickstarter campaign last month to fund the making of my next album: a six-song EP dedicated to my mom, as well as a northeast tour in May. The goal was $10,000, which, amazingly, was reached in just 11 days. People have been so generous! We’ve now exceeded our goal by about $500, and it runs until 7:45 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28. Though it sounds crazy, $10,000 was the bare minimum we needed to make this album and tour happen as we envisioned it: recording live in a professional studio, and traveling the East Coast by train, which is more expensive but kinder to the earth and the animals than cars and freeways! We’re so excited, and so thankful to have made it this far. But if we continue to exceed our goal this will allow us to expand the project in some really exciting ways. Depending on how much we get, we’ll be able to book an extra day in the studio, record an extra song, hire an arranger for several songs, and compensate the musicians involved more fairly.
If you’re interested supporting this project, have a look at my Kickstarter page where you can watch a video explaining the spirit of the project more fully. You can also see the different rewards for donations, (for example, you can pre-order a digital copy of the album for a donation of $10.) If you want to support me in a way that has nothing to do with money, you can help me spread the word about this project by sending the link to your friends, you can help me book a show on the east coast in May—ideally in a home or a church or a similarly intimate space—or come to my show in San Francisco this Friday, Feb. 11 at Viracocha!
My name is Martha and I’m an employee of the Government of Canada working on the seal file.
While some may not agree with the harvest itself, it is worth noting that the seal population is healthy and abundant. The Northwest Atlantic harp seal population is currently estimated at 6.9 million animals—more than triple the size of the herd in the 1970s—and is not considered a threatened or endangered species.
Fishery officers monitor the harvest closely and infractions are taken seriously.
For you and your readers, there is information about seal populations available here: http://bit.ly/buywqj. As well, the full text of the Marine Mammal Regulations can be found here: http://bit.ly/bbYSXN
Hey Martha! Thanks for stopping by! We love getting the other side around here, especially when it’s full of doublespeak from a government eager to wipe the blood off its public face. So let’s get a few things straight.
1. A “harvest” is when you pick fruit off trees or whatever. It’s not when you bludgeon the heads of newborn seals until they’re good and dead (and before they have a chance to breed because that’s so “sustainable”). I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the meeting where a roomful of government staffers decided which word to use. ”How about ‘cuddle’? Are we liking ‘cuddle’?” “I don’t know, I’m still pushing for ‘happy finish’.” “YOU GUYS. I’VE GOT IT: ‘harvest’.” And the room breaks out in high-fives and fist-bumps.
2. Well shit howdy, the herd size has tripled since the 1970s? I wonder what else happened in the 1970s. Oh yeah, that’s right: The United States of America, your No. 1 trading partner, banned the importation of seal products. You’re kinda making my case for me, Martha.
3. And well done ignoring the point of the post and the Humane Society’s video, which is to show unprecedented melting of Arctic ice. Melting that is only getting worse. Yes, I’m sure your office will say, “based on data from the last five to 10 years, we predict that we can continue to
give sustainable happy finish to harvest X number of seals for the next five to 10 years.” Well guess what, the world’s climate is changing, and fast. What happened five years ago is nothing like what’s happening this year. Try reading the news sometime. It’s in that section buried under Sports, Gossip, and Offbeat. No, keep going, you’re at the comics. There it is. It’s called Science.
4. Lastly, did you not notice the name of the site? We don’t care if your seal hunt is sustainable or not. But let’s put it this way. You may think it’s sustainable, but it’s not. Because in a few short years from now, the habitat for those animals will be completely gone, and all of you will be taken by surprise.