Hoping for change: new Finnish parliament

There’s an election going on here in Finland; by the end of the week we will have chosen who will sit in our parliament for the next four years.

I’m hoping to see people in the parliament who will work for at least these things;

  • Animal welfare
    • Focus on the animal welfare instead of economic winnings in creating the new Animal Welfare Act
    • A decision to end fur farming within the next ten years, and an actual plan on how to do so
    • A decision to move away from factory farming
  • Environment
    • Moving more and more towards renewable energy sources, away from oil, coal, nuclear energy etc.
    • Promotion of plant-based, organic and locally grown food both in schools and in society in general
  • Equality:
    • Keeping to the decision of marriage equality
    • Working against racism and sexism in working life and society in general

Use your privilege and vote, dear Finnish citizens! We don’t have any right to complain or demand change if we don’t do anything for that change to happen.

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A vegan Christmas

We had a great Christmas, even though it was a bit different from what we are used to. We talked to our families through phone and Skype, we met some of our friends at church, we got few but great gifts, and we had some great food.

The food is what this post is going to be about.

Here in Finland we have a bunch of typical Christmas dishes that people usually eat every year, such as different casseroles (“porkkanalaatikko”, “lanttulaatikko”), ham, different kind of salads, and so on. I have kind of found my way to make vegan versions of some of these, and have also added some other dishes that we didn’t necessarily have on the Christmas table when I grew up.

christmas table

So on our vegan Christmas table this year we had these dishes;

  • A vegan ham based on gluten, chickpea and soy flour
  • Porkkanalaatikko, or carrot casserole
  • Red beet salad with home-made mayonnaise
  • Marinated eggplant slices, a vegan version of herring (“silli”)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mushroom sauce
  • “Ris á la Malta”, which is a dessert based on rice porridge, with vegan whipped cream, oranges and pomegranatesaladdessert

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!

I don’t want to pay for continued cruelty

Recently the animal rights group Oikeutta Eläimille released new footage from Finnish farms, this time including pig farms, a goat farm, a dairy farm and a farm for egg-laying hens. The group have released this kind of footage pretty much regularly since 2007, and the conditions at the farms never get any better, even though there have been discussions around the footage and animal welfare every time.

The industry gets subsidies from both the Finnish government and the European Union (i.e. from our tax money) to better their image. Not to advance the welfare of the animals, but to better the bad image that the industry has got thanks to the footage that has been released and because people have gotten more conscious about what they eat. I don’t understand the logic behind this, why give money to an industry so that they make a bigger gap between what is shown in their commercials and what is the truth? If we would like to give funds, then why don’t focus on advancing the welfare of the animals instead? Wouldn’t that be a better use for the money? Giving money to better the image so that people will continue to buy meat is not a solution to the problem, it’s a cover-up.

Oikeutta Eläimille has started a petition to make this kind of subsidies history. You can find the petition here. Please sign it if you care about animal welfare and think it’s wrong to give funding for covering up cruelty and bettering the image of an industry with so much problems. This is what the petition-site says, loosely translated into English:

“Petition: No subsidies for cruelty!

I the beginning of the year new shocking pictures from pig farms were released. At the same time the meat industry got 1,5 million euros in subsidies for advertisement of pork.

Factory farming causes suffering to animals and big environmental problems. No more subsidies from the society for advertisement of animal products!”

Vetoomus: Ei tukea kärsimykselle!

Alkuvuodesta julkisuuteen tuli uusia shokkikuvia sikaloista. Samaan aikaan lihateollisuus sai puolitoista miljoonaa euroa verorahoja sianlihan markkinointiin.

Eläintuotanto aiheuttaa kärsimystä eläimille ja suuria ympäristöongelmia. Ei enää yhteiskunnan tukea eläintuotteiden markkinointiin!

– See more at: http://oikeuttaelaimille.net/vetoomus-ei-tukea-karsimykselle#sthash.ZXvX6MID.dpuf

Vetoomus: Ei tukea kärsimykselle!

Alkuvuodesta julkisuuteen tuli uusia shokkikuvia sikaloista. Samaan aikaan lihateollisuus sai puolitoista miljoonaa euroa verorahoja sianlihan markkinointiin.

Eläintuotanto aiheuttaa kärsimystä eläimille ja suuria ympäristöongelmia. Ei enää yhteiskunnan tukea eläintuotteiden markkinointiin!

– See more at: http://oikeuttaelaimille.net/vetoomus-ei-tukea-karsimykselle#sthash.ZXvX6MID.dpuf

If you would like to see the new footage, it can be found at elaintehtaat.fi (the site is in Finnish, but you don’t really need any Finnish language skills to be able to find the footage). Viewer discretion is advised.

European elections

If you live within the European Union, don’t forget to vote in the European Elections this May 22-25! Eurogroup for Animals, the federation of animal protection organizations in the European Union, started a campaign for the elections already last year. They have created a list of points about animal welfare that they would like political groups to include in their manifestos for the elections;

1. Improve farm animal welfare
2. Reduce the number of animals used in research and testing
3. Protect cats and dogs
4. Improve the welfare of wild animals
5. Use EU trade agreements to boost animal welfare in partner third countries
6. Ensure that animals are recognized as sentient beings in all legislation

More about what these points include and about the campaign in general can be found at www.voteforanimals.eu. For the Finnish campaign go to elainpolitiikka.net under “Europaparlamenttivaalit 2014” (in Finnish).

On Thursday last week, the local Animalia activist-group hosted a political discussion around these points and animal welfare in general within the European Union. Running politicians from different political parties had been invited, and in the end seven of them agreed to come; Sanna Lehtinen from the Centre Party, Jere Riikonen from the Christian Democrats, Johanna Sumuvuori from the Green party, Eila Aarnos from the Left Alliance of Finland, Juhani Tanski from the Workers party of Finland, Petrus Pennanen from the Pirate party, and then Helena Eronen from Change 2011, who did not show up to the actual discussion.

The politicians were asked questions about for example how the animals’ position in the EU can be improved, what they have done for the animals during their political career, what they would do to turn the trend of rising meat consumption, as well as questions about animal testing and slaughter transports. I was positively surprised by most of the politicians and their knowledge and interest in the subject, and the discussion turned out to be really interesting.

The only sad thing about the event was the small amount of people who turned up. Apart from the politicians and people who work for Animalia in different ways, only few came. Maybe the advertisement hadn’t been so good, or maybe people are not so interested in listening to political discussions, I don’t know. But I hope that next time a similar discussion is held there will be more people there to listen, because I found it very interesting and helpful. It’s different to actually have the politicians there and being able to ask them questions, than to just read their pamphlets and campaign-websites and try to decide who to vote for based on those.

Silvoplee, Helsinki

The vegetarian restaurant Silvoplee was first opened in Helsinki in 1999. Now it has recently moved to a new location at Toinen linja 7, just next to the Hakaniemi metro station. The restaurant serves mainly raw, but also cooked foods, in a buffet style where you pick what you want on a plate and pay by weight. Some dishes contain honey or dairy products, but most of the dishes are still vegan. They also have a separate smoothie bar/café and sell some organic food stuffs.

We have visited the place twice, the first time in the end of February, and the other time just recently. The first time we went there for dinner, the second time for lunch. At dinnertime there were several empty tables, but at lunch the place was really full. The atmosphere in the restaurant was pleasant, even when it was full, the interior is nice, bright and somehow peaceful.

silvoplee

The food was a nice experience, the buffet table was longer than I expected and I had to take only little of everything both times, since I wanted to taste all the different dishes. Above every dish there was a note listing its ingredients in Finnish, so knowing what is vegan or not was not a problem for me. The buffet table had some dishes that were the same both times we visited, such as the salad buffet, but some of the dishes change daily.

The food costs 22,30 euros/kilo, and if you choose to also have soup that one costs 17,30 euros/kilo. The price includes bread and fresh water. The times we have went there my food has cost 10-13 euros, while R’s food has been a little more; 15-18 euros.

silvoplee

I really liked the place both times, the food is good-looking and fresh, you get full without feeling stuffed. Of course there were dishes that didn’t fit my taste, but most of them were really good both times and I have found some favorites among those that they seem to have all the time. We are definitely going back again, probably several times.

Fighting for a world free from animal testing

Even though the EU accepted a new law prohibiting animal testing of cosmetics within the union last year, the law is far from perfect, and there is a lot more to be done on behalf of the animals used in animal testing for both cosmetic and other reasons.

In fact, the number of animals used in tests in Finland have increased during the last few years, even though you would think that the reality would be the opposite considering how much alternatives have been developed. The animal protection organisation Animalia launched a new campaign last week, with the intend of turning the trend and make sure fewer animals are used for animal testing year by year.

In Finland, most animal tests (70%) are done for basic research, in other words to get information about different biologic processes, without really giving any answers to specific (medical) problems. Genetic manipulation has increased the use of animals for these kind of tests. Animal tests used for medical research amount for less than one-fourth of all animal tests conducted in Finland. The most used animals are mice, rats and fishes, but also rabbits, dogs, pigs and sheep are used a lot. Apart from the use of animals in direct experiments, a lot of animals are also raised so that their tissues can be used.

The well-being of animals used in animal tests is questionable, even apart from the tests themselves, which might be very painful and in some cases cause chronic problems. The living conditions of the animals are poor, they live in confined spaces – rats that are fond of climbing, for example, can live their whole life in cages so low that they can’t even stand up on their back legs – and get no stimulation whatsoever.

There are a lot of alternatives for animal tests, and it has also been proven over and over again that results of tests conducted on animals cannot be directly transferred to humans, but require further research. When it comes to animals raised for their tissues, the problem could easily be resolved by using donated human tissues, which can be done the same way as donating organs – something you might want to consider doing!

On the campaign website www.koe-elain.fi you can find more information about the campaign, about animal testing and it’s alternatives (unfortunately only in Finnish).