you're reading...

Christmas Links Digest

Merryvegan christmas Christmas!

As you may have noticed, it’s been a couple of weeks since our last links digest.  Ten days ago, I decided to move the links digest to a fortnightly, not weekly cycle.  But, then, last weekend, life got hectic.  So, here’s the last links digest for 2009.

So, here you have it: The best, the worst, and the most ridiculous links about veganism, animal rights, and animal law from the last two and a half weeks.

  • As I write this, I’m sitting at home, at my parents’ house, where I’m spending a couple of nights over Christmas.  One of the many benefits of growing up, getting a job, and moving out was this: I don’t have to see bits of dead animal in the fridge.  I’m currently eating a slice of (vegan) fruitcake, baked for me by a kind colleague.  To get it, I had to stare down the cold dead turkey dominating the fridge.  Ah well, it’s Christmas.  I don’t what you eat for Christmas – a friend told me a couple of days ago that he planned a BBQ of assorted fake meats, which seems much more sensible for a scorching New Zealand summer’s day, or maybe you’re lucky enough to have imported some prime American tofurkey – but, ever since I went vegan, my dinner has been ‘turkey’ home-made from seitan.  Here’s the recipe.  It is good.  Dad’s cooking this gravy, and macademia nut stuffing. 
  • Let’s be honest here: Being vegan is far cheaper than eating meat.  I just provoked a brief argument between my parents about whether a turkey costs $30 or $50 (fortunately, I have little family here in New Zealand, so Christmas hasn’t collapsed into the Bitter Family Feud About What Aunt Beryl Said Last Autumn to Cousin Obidiah…yet).  My seitan?  Less than a tenner for enough gluten to last me a year, a few dollars for a block of tofu, and loose change for assorted other herbs, spices, and ingredients.  Being vegan can be expensive, if you’re going wholly organic or living on a fake-meat-junk-food diet.  Otherwise, veganism is cheaper than eating meat.
  • A few weeks ago, the Sea Shepherd’s flagship, the Steve Irwin, departed for Antarctica.  Over the last few days, the crews of the Steve Irwin and the Ady Gill engaged the Japanese whaling fleet.  I suggest that you follow the Sea Shepherd’s website closely as the southern summer unfolds.  The Solution would like to wish a merry Christmas to Paul Watson and his volunteer crews! (and an only slightly sarcastic merry Christmas to the whalers)
  • For some of you, Christmas – or the dreaded Boxing Day sales – might be a good opportunity to replace old, non-vegan clothing.  There has been some discussion about the ethics of this on the intertubes lately.  Stephanie Ernst of Change.org presented one perspective;   My confession?  I have leather hiking boots, silk ties, and woollen suits and coats – many even bought after I declared my veganism!
  • Dr Michael Morris discusses the subtle manipulation of the New Zealand government by our animal industries.  Well worth the read.
  • A recurring question for animal rights activism: When can we ethically break the law?  Of course, as a lawyer, I could not condone or participate in illegal activity.  But Change.org applies the wisdom of Clarence Darrow – one of the United States’ most renowned trial lawyers – to the struggle for animal rights in this series:

In modern society the controlling forces arrange things as they want them, and provide that certain things are criminal.

  • On 21 December 2005, the government gave New Zealand’s pigs a most unwelcome Christmas present: A code of welfare that further legitimised their suffering.  Rushed out days before Christmas, hidden amongst Santa’s parcels, it slipped under the public radar.  Sue Kedgley predicted that they’d pull the same dirty trick this year.  But, no: The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) has not yet released the draft code.  Why not?

“However, the New Zealand Pork Industry Board has threatened legal action regarding release of the draft code for public consultation” says John Hellstrom, NAWAC Chairman.

“In light of this, NAWAC wants to ensure its processes are as robust as possible and so will be further consulting with the pig industry and other affected parties before releasing a draft code for public consultation” says John.

Has NAWAC broken from its past track record – and written something the industry doesn’t like? Instead of, you know, just plain adopting the draft submitted to them by the industry, as appears to be their usual hobby.

To those who support animal welfare, I encourage you to take whatever steps toward veganism you can, if you find it too hard to go “cold turkey.” Others may be considering going vegetarian or vegan because of the increasing evidence that the meat industry contributes significantly to climate change or because diets high in meat are unhealthy. Whatever your motive, every step helps. You don’t have to give up all animal products at once to make a difference. And ultimately, if the other option is giving up, it’s worth taking baby steps to achieve a goal you believe in.

  • Meanwhile, AULSS – the University of Auckland’s law students’ society – released its 2009 yearbook.  SoLVe had quite a presence.  The ‘most likely to throw meat at SoLVe’ award made its début (what is it about vegetarian barbeques that so threatens some boys’ fragile masculinity?).  On the bright side, James won an award for his monumental beard.  But then there’s the ‘Peter Sankoff memorial iron deficiency award’.  Aside from the oddity of having a memorial for one of the younger lecturers (happy birthday, Peter!) who is still teaching, there’s that hackneyed old myth about vegans having low iron.  Now, last time they tested me, I had high iron levels.  They’ve probably dropped now, because exercise depletes iron reserves (and I’ve been running a whole lot this year) and caffeine inhibits iron uptake (and espresso is the only thing I love that loves me back), but I only know one vegan who takes iron pills.  My flatmate.  She eats one meal a day – and she’s not iron deficient, but just likes the way the iron pills taste.  I have tried one: I am pleased to report that it tasted like candy.  So, AULSS: Please, bury the iron myth for 2010! (I also have it on good authority that the yearbook’s editor lost the David Tong Memorial Coffee Plunger somewhere in the AULR office sometime in 2009: Please give it back!)
  • Christmas, for better or worse, is commercialised, and sodden in advertising.  And some advertising plain does not make any sense.  For example: God Sent This Calf to Convince You to Kill the Others.  Wait.  What?
  • Judge Walsh of the Westport District Court discharged a Russian immigrant with an ‘unusual diet’ without conviction for eating a seal.  Now, the seal was dead when the man found it.  He just didn’t believe in wastage, in short.  This unusual diet (and his taking of the seal’s skin) earned him a charge.   To put this in context: Last week, some of my (exceptionally intelligent) colleagues were talking about how they’d probably eventually get sick of eating leftover Christmas ham and throw it out. Our society could not have things more backwards.
  • Here’s a story from inside Open Rescue:

Today Rochelle and I were hanging out in Levin, as you do on a Saturday afternoon, and decided to go check out the local layer hen slaughterhouse.

There was no one around so we decided to climb the fence and see if anyone was there and see if there was a possible opportunity to take some pictures.

  • The UK’s Sustainable Development Commission has just discovered that eating less meat is better for the environment.  Congratulations!  We’re on the cusp of 2010, so…by my count, they’re only 33 years behind James Rachels.
  • If I weren’t eating Christmas cake today, I’d be tempted to try baking a vegan caramel for Christmas dessert.
  • I hope this documentary makes it to New Zealand:

Victor Schonfeld, who did The Animals Film (narrated by Julie Christie) in 1982, hosts the program. Schonfeld will question whether we have made any progress in this area and will ask if our relationship with nonhumans is still as exploitative as it was back in 1982. He will explore the state of the animal movement and he will focus in the first program on eating animals and in the second program on the use of animals in experiments. He will also discuss the relationship between human suffering and animal suffering.

  • I said I had some ridiculous links for you.  Here’s one: 10 Cool Animals for Christmas Gifts.  I don’t think WebEcoist quite gets it when it comes to ecology.  Animals: file under gifts or home and garden.  Right.
  • Finally, Professor Gary Francione has launched a virtual billboard campaign:


…if you want it.

About David Tong

Climate campaigner | Cyclist | Photographer | Vegan | Straight Edge || Views my own


One thought on “Christmas Links Digest

  1. Those iron pills really are tasty, and a great alternative to having to go downstairs and buy candy.

    Posted by Jay Herself | 1 January 2010, 6:09 pm
%d bloggers like this: