It’s more fun in the Philippines?

We recently came back from a one month vacation in the Philippines. My plan was to update the blog while there, but we had much more limited access to the Internet than I thought we would, as well as a quite full-packed time-schedule.

This was my second time in the country, and I just got more aware of the contrasts that exist there. There’s two very different sides of the Philippines, and I have had the privileged to see both of them to some extent.

On one hand we have the Philippines that tourists see; paradise. The parts with all the resorts, white beaches, waterfalls and so on, everything beautiful that the country has to offer. On the other hand we have the lives of the many people living in poverty; in homes that would barely be called homes here in Finland – or even without a home at all – with storms and floods as a part of life, without enough money to feed the family.

The reality of a country with so much natural resources and so much talent saddens me. With a government full of corruption the people who call Philippines their home struggle to stay above the surface, and it breaks my heart. Seeing kids walking around hungry in the street without shoes or proper clothes, hearing how badly workers are treated and how little rights they have, how expensive it is to get your children proper education, and how huge the gap between the rich and the poor is… the list goes on an on.

I love the Philippines. I have family there now, I have friends there, I have friends who have families there, I have people I care about in this country on the other side of the world. The more I love, the more I care, and the more the situation breaks my heart. The people of the Philippines are strong, they always work hard, and they always have a smile on their face even though how bad their circumstances get. They deserve so much better.

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Tahdon, I do

Pride-Flag

A few hours ago the Finnish parliament accepted the citizen’s initiative for marriage equality. This means that in the near future people of the same sex will (hopefully) finally be able to get married here in Finland. It’s been a though fight for the organizations and individuals working for this change to happen, but now it has finally paid off. Today love has won. Amazing!

The connection between veganism and feminism

I wrote this post quite a while ago, but for some reason I never posted it. Since the issue don’t really get outdated I decided to post it now instead:

There’s quite a debate about whether being a feminist also means you should be a vegan. This blogger claims that the two issues are deeply connected, mainly because the animal exploitation industry is highly dependent on exploiting the female reproductive system (even if this industry also exploits male animals in a high degree). Some feminists don’t agree at all, and feel that making such a connection is degrading to human women and to feminism.

I’m not really sure where I stand in this issue, but for me one thing is sure; veganism and animal rights are definitely connected to feminism, just like they are connected to other social rights issues. Some would maybe argue with this too, and claim that the struggle for animal rights cannot be compared with the struggles for equal rights no matter of skin color, gender, sexuality, or any other similar social issue, because one is about humans and the other about animals. I don’t think this matters, it’s all about changing our perceptions of the world, looking outside what is most convenient for ourselves and making this world a better place. The resistance we see against animal rights is the same resistance that was seen when people were fighting to for example end slavery and allow women to vote, and is also seen in the fight for other social issues, like feminism, still today.

What are your thoughts? Are feminism and veganism connected? Does being a feminist mean you should be a vegan?

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?

I care about human rights…

…and a lot of these rights are ignored or violated every day, all over the world.

That’s why I’m in the local Amnesty group. This Sunday we will have an event in Rewell Center here in town, in memory of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist who was murdered the 7th October 2006 for daring to speak the truth. Today, 6 years later, the murder has still not been solved, and in Russia there is no real freedom of speech. Journalists and human rights defenders still have to fear for their lives.

So if you happen to live in Vaasa, or somewhere close, come see us and speak up for the  freedom of speech by signing Amnesty’s petition to the Russian government. We are there from 1 pm.