Animal sanctuaries

For some time now I’ve been looking into different animal sanctuaries and their internship programmes. An animal sanctuary is shortly put a place where animals can live the rest of their lives on their own conditions instead of ours. I have never visited one, since there are no such places close to where I live. However, I’m hoping to go away to one of them for a few months in a near future, to  learn more about the animals, to work with them and to get to be close to them. And of course to meet other people who are as dedicated as me when it comes to animals.

I’m mainly interested in sanctuaries for farmed animals, animals that most people see as the source of food, so that I could see another side of these animals, learn more about their behaviours in general as well as get to know some individuals. However, I haven’t found any sanctuaries for farmed animals in Europe yet, so if someone knows of any, please tell me.

Veganism is not the solution to all problems

Over and over again, I stumble upon discussions about veganism where non-vegans tell vegans that they’re naive, that veganism is not the solution to the world’s problems, and that there are worse things to worry about. Sometimes they actually believe vegans think they have the ultimate solution, that they are perfect (some vegans also seem to think so, but I believe they’re a minority) – and they love to point out things that make vegans look bad.

I don’t believe veganism is a solution to all problems. A common argument among vegans is that if everybody became vegan we would not have people starving in this world. This is not true. It is true that if everyone became vegan, we would have more food to feed people, because we would not anymore be growing crops to feed the animals to later feed the people with, which is insufficient and a waste of energy (apart from being ethically wrong in several ways). However, the problem is more complex, since we already now have an overflow of food in the industrial countries, while there are people starving in other places in the world because they lack food. In other words, it is also a question about distribution of the available food.

What I want to say with this is that I believe animal activists sometimes defeat their cause by pretending veganism is the solution to everything. It affects the trustworthiness of the whole idea of veganism. Because it’s not the solution to all the world’s problems. It is a start, and it definitely doesn’t do any harm. But we cannot pretend it is the perfect, and only, solution. It needs to be combined with a whole bunch of other changes to make this world what it should be.

As vegans we are not perfect people, and I think most of us are not trying to be. Because perfection is not what veganism is about. However, we try our best to do something, to make some kind of change. You have to start somewhere, right? I don’t let people who say stupid things about what I should care about instead of animals discourage me, because I am really trying to live my life the best I can, and do the least harm I can. I will never stop learning and changing myself and my behaviours towards the better, and what more can I do than that?

Banana & chocolate cupcakes

This is a very simple recipe for cupcakes that only takes about 15-20 minutes to make (including the time in the oven). They don’t look like much but you should not judge by appearance, right?

banana & chocolate cupcakes

 

You will need:
200 grams of dairy-free margarine
2 mashed bananas
4 dl of wheat flour
1-1½ dl of sugar
1 tsp baking powder
dark chocolate (I used one with 70% cacao)

Mix the margarine, bananas, sugar and baking powder together. Crush dark chocolate into pieces, the amount is up to you, and mix them in with the other ingredients. Put the dough into cupcake-forms (this recipe makes around 12 cupcakes) and bake in the oven at 225 degrees celsius for about 10 minutes.

I want a vegan world!

I re-listened to one of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcasts today. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably know by now that I admire Colleen greatly, she is a true inspiration for me to continue learning and writing about animals and veganism and to keep thinking compassionately.

Anyways, the podcast I listened to today is called “Turning the tables” and in the podcast she, among other things, talks about that many people believe vegans have an “agenda” to turn the whole world vegan. It reminded me of an article in the local newspaper some years ago, in 2009, in connection to a campaign by the animal activist organization Oikeutta Eläimille about ending fur farming. The article was about an own campaign the fur farming industry had started as an answer to the campaign by Oikeutta Eläimille, and it said something about that we (“the vegans” or “the activists”) start with a ban against fur and fur farming, then we want to go on to ban other types of animal farming for meat, dairy and eggs, etc.. The article was angled in a way that it seemed that this aim is something animal activists are hiding from the public, that we pretend to “only” want a ban against fur farming, but actually we want to ban all animal industry.

I was almost laughing when I read this article back then, and I still find it very ironic, because for me it has never been about any hidden agendas. I would love for the whole world to be vegan, free of animal industries, even though I don’t believe that a ban is the best way to get there. Ethical decisions like that need to come from people themselves, not from any higher authority, to be understood and have an actual point for both humans and animals. Anyway, while I was still in the local activist group we were never about hiding that we are vegans and that is what we are striving for more and more people to be. It has always been out there for people to see.

I think a vegan world would be great in so many ways, not only for the animals but also for the people and the environment. If we would show more compassion towards animals – all of the animals and not only pets, getting a more one-sided view of animals instead of the very confusing view we have now where some animals are friends and others food or products to be used – I believe it would come as a consequence that we would also be more compassionate towards one another. Veganism is not a perfect way of living or an end of something, it is one step on the way towards living as compassionately as possible, towards doing as little harm as possible.

“People have the right to know what factory farming looks like”

The Finnish animal rights organization Oikeutta Eläimille has started a campaign  for supporting two of the people behind the videos and pictures from Finnish pig farms presented in the 2009 campaign “Sikatehtaat”. The two activists are possibly awaiting severe sentences for their actions, while the farmers have not been accused of anything despite the obvious violations seen in the pictures and videos. The issue will be taken up in court again next week and the activists need all the support they can get.

https://i1.wp.com/www.oikeuttaelaimille.net/sites/default/files/kuvat/sikatehtaat_oikeudenkaynti_4.jpg

To join the campaign and show your support, you should take a picture of yourself holding one of their pre-made signs found on their website (one of them seen above) and send it to the organisation by e-mail at sikatehtaat@oikeuttaelaimille.net. A lot of Finnish people have already submitted their pictures and there is also international support, from the crew of Sea Shepherd for example:

Picture from Oikeutta Eläimille’s facebook page.

I’m not a very big fan of being in pictures, but I want to show my support by writing this post. I find it ironic that you get punished so much more for breaking laws concerning privacy and property than laws against cruelty to other living beings. We have a really messed up view of animals (and ourselves) when we think we can do whatever we want to them just because we can, and if someone tries to stop that or even point it out they are the criminals. It doesn’t seem logical to me.

In theory the Finnish animal protection law sounds very good, but in practice it is not working out very well. Animals don’t get to live good lives, they are not well taken care of and they do suffer. As long as we don’t have a good system for checking up the conditions at the farms, activism like this will be needed. People have a right to know what they are supporting when they buy meat or other animal-based products. In fact, I would even argue that we should have an obligation to know these things before supporting such an industry.

Showing compassion over the boundaries of opinion

At one point in time the animal activist group that I was in did demonstrations at individual fur farms. We had a banner and we sang songs and shouted rhymes about how horrible fur farming is and how cruel fur farmers are. I joined a couple of times, but it never felt right to me and I decided to not join these kind of demonstrations anymore. After this decision I had a conversation with one of the other group members (who, for the record, is an amazing person that has inspired me in many ways) about the issue. She said that she understands that it is uncomfortable/hard for me, but that I need to think of it as a way of ending fur farming, and that I should try to distance myself from the owners of the farms, because in fact they are animal abusers and not good people.

Now I do think fur farming is a form of animal abuse, I think it’s wrong and unneccessary and I hope to see an end to it while I’m still alive. However, I don’t feel comfortable with standing outside the farmers’ homes calling them names and telling them they are horrible people without compassion. Because they’re not. I don’t think what they do for a living is okay, and I will never give my blessing for it, but they themselves are not horrible, cruel people. They are human beings, just like us, and like so many of us they have been desensitized to the suffering of non-human animals. Just as I don’t want to be called names or have anyone stand outside my home telling me what they think I do wrong in my life, I don’t want to do that to others.

I don’t either believe these kind of demonstrations do much for the sake of animals. Yes, after much effort and verbal harassment, that one farmer might close his farm and turn to other means of making money, possibly saving the lives of some animals. However, the hatred against animal activists would grow larger, and the indifference between the activists and the farmers would continue to be there. This kind of animal activism will not change the minds of anyone believing the use of animals for our own purposes to be okay, it might just make their belief stronger.

I don’t mean that we should stop fighting for an end to fur farming (or other types of animal abuse), but I don’t believe in this particular way of doing it. Hatred doesn’t grow anything other than more hatred, and I believe animal activism should be about changing people’s attitudes towards non-human animals and the vegan lifestyle, not shouting in their face that what they do is wrong. Because it doesn’t work. If we don’t show compassion towards other people, if we don’t change our attitude towards them, how can we expect them to change their attitudes towards non-human animals?