Food for thought podcast

One of my favorite vegan educators is definitely Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Her podcast Food for thought is one of my big inspiration sources. In it she talks about different issues concerning veganism; food, social situations, compassionate language, animals and so on. Colleen has a calm way and voice that makes it easy to listen, and I admire her way of always responding to people and situations compassionately.

I usually download the podcast to my phone and listen to it when I go for walks or while sitting in the bus on my way to work. It’s a great way to learn and get inspired while doing something else at the same time. Some of my favorite episodes are “How to talk to hunters (or anyone with whom you disagree)”, “Disagreement Not Disrespect” and “Life after cheese”.

You can find the podcast episodes for example on Colleen’s Soundcloud page, or through her official webpage (where you can find other information and resources as well). Definitely worth checking out! If you don’t feel like listening to a whole hour episode, there are also shorter soundbites that you can easily listen to and share with others.

The problem with factory farming is not the individual cases of abuse

When I stood in the city one afternoon several years ago informing people about the conditions of pigs raised for food as a part of an ongoing campaign, one person came up to me and said something like “That’s nothing weird. That’s how it looks like” (pictures in the campaign included pigs living in dirt and sometimes even together with dead friends, wounded pigs etc.). The attitude of the person commenting was that this is normal and that there is nothing we can do about it, so we shouldn’t talk about it or even care.

Is it not exactly this that is the problem? It’s so usual that the animals are suffering that no one reacts anymore, it’s just “normal” and “okay”.

The issue is bigger than just farmers treating their animals badly, there is a problem in the whole system. Raising animals is not simply raising animals, so to speak. It’s an industry where living creatures are held and slaughtered on assembly lines like they were products. There’s no time, no space, no resources for well-being among the animals in an industry like the animal industry today (I don’t believe animals can be happy in any kind of situation where they are used for our purposes, but that’s another story). Animal “products” are cheap, even though the cost of production may not be, and people consume more and more of certain products, which leads to a faster and faster spinning industry. It’s not good for anyone’s well-being – not ours, not the animals’, not the nature’s. Something has to change.

This is one reason why I’m an activist. “Activist” may sound very ugly in some people’s ears, but that does not make me want to stop being one. I’m not ashamed. Prejudices are not a reason to stop fighting for things you believe in. I don’t want to live my life just watching the world get darker, if there’s something I can do to change this world to the better, I will fight to do it. I hope you will too, whatever it is that you believe in.

Compassionate reading: Vegan’s Daily Companion

As I told you before, I love reading – especially books – and there are so many books out there on veganism, compassion and animal activism. So many that I most of the time find it hard to know which one I should read next. However, I’ve read quite a few already and feel it could be a good idea to write about some of them to give you guys a tip on what to read.

Vegan's daily companion

A book on the subject that is great even for those of you who are not crazy about reading is Vegan’s daily companion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. The book consists of short essays, one for every day of the year, divided into six different categories depending on the day of the week:

  • Monday/For the love of food
    Talks about different vegan foods, their origin and use.
  • Tuesday/Compassionate communication
    Talks about techniques for speaking on behalf of veganism, such as typical questions vegans get and their answers, and alternatives to violent animal idioms.
  • Wednesday/Optimum health for body, mind and spirit
    Talks about staying healthy as a vegan and an activist, in mind, body and soul.
  • Thursday/Animals in the arts: Literature and film
    Talks about and gives excerpts from books and films that in some way tangle the issue of animals and compassion.
  • Friday/Stories of hope, rescue and transformation
    Gives stories of rescued animals and people changing into becoming vegan, both written by Colleen herself and by others.
  • Saturday & Sunday/Healthful recipes
    Provides healthful vegan recipes.

All the essays are maximum one page long, easy to read and provide information on many different subjects concerning veganism, compassion and animal activism. It is truly a companion for someone who is not a vegan but wants to know more about veganism, or for someone who is already vegan but would like to learn more and become strengthened in their beliefs.

My favorite category in the book is definitely the “Stories of hope, rescue and transformation” one, because while there is much sadness in being an animal advocate and witness of the suffering of animals, these stories give hope and happiness to me. They prove that things can change and become better.

I highly recommend this book!

The Ghosts in Our Machine – thoughts after the screening

We went to see the documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine in the cinema yesterday, and it did live up to my expectations.

It was beautifully filmed, and both painful and pleasing to watch. Painful because of all the depictions of suffering animals in captivity, pleasing because of the depicted happiness and love of the animals that were rescued and brought to sanctuary (in this case Farm Sanctuary in New York). It was also an interesting behind-the-scenes story of the work Jo-Anne McArthur does, a very painful and distressing – but also very important – job.

DSC_0982#The picture is my own, taken last summer at a cattle farm here in Finland

For me as a several year vegan and animal activist the issues brought up were not new, but it was still powerful. It gave me motivation to continue doing what I do, and continuously striving to finding new ways of helping animals, even if it is painful. Somehow I also felt a little bit of peace in the middle of all the pain, because I know I do my best to not contribute to the suffering of all these animals. Even if I can’t save them all, at least I’m not putting their flesh in my mouth, their skin on my feet, or chemicals tested on them in my face. Most of the time it does not feel like that’s enough, but sometimes I still get to feel that peace, and parts of this film gave me that.

The film does not explain much what animal rights and the activism for animals is all about. Instead it depicts the suffering of animals in different life situations and the work of different animal activists. The footage is most likely eye-opening for someone who is not familiar with the suffering of animals in our world, even if it doesn’t give all the facts. The facts can always be found elsewhere.

My summary goes like this: WATCH IT, you will not regret that you did.

Finnish factory farming exposed, again

Last week new pictures and videos from Finnish factory farms were released by the animal rights organization Oikeutta Eläimille. This time the footage is taken at several different types of farms, including pigs, cows and chickens raised for different purposes. The footage was originally released during the 45 minuuttia (45 minutes) show in Finnish TV, where also animal activist spoke about why it is important to show what goes on behind the closed doors of the factory farms.

The footage can be found on the website eläintehtaat.fi (translates to “animal factories”). Videos are added to the site as soon after they have been filmed as possible.

On the site you can also watch the story of two piglet brothers (Pig Vision – The Journey of two Brothers), both born into the farm industry, but ending up living totally different lives. One of them is kept at the factory farm and end his life by being slaughtered at 7 months old. The other is rescued and brought to an animal sanctuary where he still lives today. Some of the footage in the video is horrifying – however, common practice within the industry – but the video also paints a picture of how the life of a pig could be if he or she would be allowed to be a pig instead of just a product. The video is originally made by the United Creations organization in Austria:

How to be a better animal advocate

Earlier this month the Helsinki Oikeutta Eläimille (a Finnish animal rights group) hosted a lecture evening about how to become a more effective animal advocate. The lecture was held by Nick Cooney, American animal advocate and author of the books “Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change” and “Veganomics”, and he was talking about how to use social psychology research as a tool for understanding what makes people change their attitudes and behaviors.

I didn’t have the possibility to attend the lecture, but fortunately for me (and maybe for you?) it was filmed and can now be viewed online. It’s sure worth watching for anyone who wants to be better at spreading social change, or anyone just interested in how we humans work.

I embedded the video for you guys below (it’s of course in English):