Monday, September 28, 2009

Outrage against CSIRO's green vegetarian advice

If you care about the planet you must be a 'tofu-munching climate change extremist animal libber.' According to Western Victorian Liberal MP John Vogels.

When I read about CSIRO releasing a green living book which, amongst other things, promoted a vegetarian lifestyle I was surprised but delighted nonetheless. In their own words, CSIRO are all about "Large-scale, long-term, multidisciplinary science to address Australia's major national challenges and opportunities."

And I agree, going veg has got to be one of the best long-term, large-scale ways of reducing environmental impact and improving health, and both of these things, among others, is what CSIRO is here for.

However, Mr Vogels declares this a "kindergarten view" and we should spend taxpayers' money on improving the efficiency of coal-fired power stations. He, in effect, denies that agribusiness has a negative impact on the environment.

It's not hard to see which side of the fence he sits on. His concern isn't about green living, it's about industry. He claims the CSIRO was created 90 years ago to support these industries and, through this book, is now being used to close down agribusiness. Perhaps, Mr Vogel, through all the research and science they have been doing in the last 90 years they have realised that living green and living healthy are no longer linked to eating meat - and in fact are rapidly aligning themselves to be polar opposites to agribusiness.

If you care about climate change, you don't deny the facts in order to maintain the industrial status quo. The fact that his concern is so clearly about the risk of forcing farmers off the land and doesn't even brush upon the realities of climate change and the effects of agribusiness makes it worrying about where his heart lies.

To quote Mr Vogel: '"It seems tofu-munching climate change extremists and animal libbers have taken over the CSIRO, wasting taxpayer funds to publish books designed to wipe out our agriculture industries with the ultimate goal of forcing farmers off the land," Mr Vogels said.

"As a nation we need to move beyond the kindergarten view that livestock generate greenhouse gas emissions and focus climate change strategies on reducing those emissions which are genuine pollutants."'

Yep, it's bad. You couldn't even make this stuff up. Read the rest here.

It's not hard to see why many would opt for making the coal-fired power stations greener, as opposed to going veg. The former doesn't require any personal commitment of your own and wipes your hands clean of any responsibility.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vegan horse racing and an unexpected ray of vegan sunshine

After much umming and aahhing about whether I could go to the races and feel ok with myself, I have decided not to go and to try and find someone to sell my ticket on to.

The fact that I am no longer feeling confused and unsure of whether to go and am feeling almost relieved is a good sign I kicked my cognitive dissonance. So thanks to everyone who let me know what really goes on.

The part I was kinda dreading the most was telling the guys that I had changed my mind and having to explain myself without coming across badly. I usually don't like to discuss vegan issues with omnis as I'm not great at dealing gently with the more, for lack of a better word, ignorant and argumentative questions. You know the ones - "But humans need protein", "Eating meat is what made us smarter than the other apes", "We have canine teeth..." etc. I wasn't too sure what I would get this time.

But it turned out I didn't need to worry... people were surprisingly understanding about it. I did get a few comments that the horses are treated really well but being armed with the info from Miss T's blog about horse racing they actually understood why I couldn't do it and maybe even learnt something about it that made them think twice. I told them I thought it was ok before and didn't really know much about racing but have since learnt about it and don't feel ok going - that it isn't in line with my being vegan and against animal cruelty, that I don't want to put my money into something that hurts animals, and money aside, I wouldn't want to give my tacit vote by being there. And for perhaps the first time people nodded and looked like they agreed with my decision. Someone even told me that cancelling was a commendable thing to do. (And he is one I was going to the races with!)

So, on those days where you think it's all a bit hard and depressing seeing the near universal acceptance of animal suffering there can be a little ray of sunshine where you least expect it. In fact, it made me realise that just being vegan and being normal is influence in itself amongst my workmates, friends and family who knew very little on what being vegan is all about. In less than a year my mates have gone from thinking I'm kinda weird and not even knowing what vegans eat, to understanding what I do and don't eat and why, and accepting it. None of them have gone vegan, but I'm happy that their awareness has been raised. And that's the first step isn't it?

Maybe a really dedicated vegan would not even sell this ticket on and instead bin it so as to not provide the opportunity for someone else to pour money and support into the whole affair. But I'm not quite that good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vegan Beauty Products

I have only been vegan for about 6 months, and am still making the transition of using up my makeup and beauty products before buying new vegan items.

I have already managed it for the basics like soap and shampoo.

But I'm now onto the serious stuff - makeup!

I'm a big make-up and product fiend and I own more stuff than I could ever use up in the quest to find the perfect holy grail of mascara, moisturiser, foundation, cleanser and lippy! Having spent years finding the stuff that works best (for me, at least) I now am faced with the daunting task of finding them all over again, in a much smaller niche market.

I have checked out The Body Shop and see that their stuff is vegetarian and not tested on animals.. but this doesn't eliminate dairy products (and honey) in their items. Lush and Aveda are both friendly sounding but aren't. So far Origins seems to be the winner but I'm yet to try any of their stuff - and I don't think they do makeup. *Sob*. Natio also offer what appears to be vegan products, shame I have already tried a bunch and while they do the trick ok, I haven't fallen in love with them.

Would love to hear what your best vegan beauty buys and products are. In fact, I wouldn't just love it - I'm desperate to hear it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

How to gain weight on a vegan diet - for those with cancer

My brother has had cancer for 2 years - an ongoing and frustrating battle.

In good news, he is still around and there are still treatment options available to him.
In bad news, he still has cancer and he's losing weight - he's now 70kg which is pretty slim for a 6' tall man.

He has gone vegan for the last year which is great. But its very hard to find good advice from doctors on what he should eat to gain weight. For a start, doctors get very little tuition on nutrition, diet and disease. Many tell him to eat meat because he needs protein (which immediately shows their lack of knowledge on vegan diets).

Visiting the cancer websites and their offerings on how to gain weight all suggest very unhealthy options (and most of them are non-vegan) such as cheese, cream, full-fat milk, fatty meat.... all the worst culprits for cultivating this disease in the first place.

My brother is avoiding all fried foods (not even cooking with oil, just adding it raw), and all animal products except the odd egg. And he is incredibly unhungry.

I would love some ideas on what high-calorie, high protein, high fat vegan foods I could feed him. Anything to keep the weight on, without having to resort to processed or unhealthy foods would be great.

The China Study. Manipulated facts?

I recently picked up a copy of The China Study after having seen it referenced countless times in veg*n sources. I was hooked from the moment I picked it up and thought it was a great (if a little dry) and informative read.

I did kind of wonder if I loved it because it reinforced everything I believe or if it really was that great and conclusive. Perhaps I did notice that experiments were done using casein instead of whole food with protein, or instead of using meat, eggs, and so forth. Also, linking saturated fats to disease is fine with me, but to make the assumption that saturated fats equal meat was I feel perhaps one step too far as there are plenty of saturated fats in plant foods.

Either way, I was happy to ignore these kinds of things and went away with the message that a plant-based whole foods diet is the healthiest.

I since lent this book to my sister-in-law who lives on a mostly vegan diet as my brother has cancer and has since turned vegan to try and beat it. And she is finding it incredibly sensationalist and patronising. I was going to lend this to my mother to help change her views on vegan diets (in the hopes Dad can kick his diabetes), and now I'm reconsidering.

I'm wondering what other peoples views were of The China Study. Were you already vegan? Did you read it doubting vegan diets and it actually made you decide vegan was great? Or did it just reinforce what you already think?

Do you have any other book recommendations which are science and vegan vs disease based? I have read Skinny Bitch and loved it but wonder if it would really influence my parents on beating diabetes as it seems quite light and based on losing weight more than anything else.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vegan Horse Racing?

I have never been to the races before having only been in Australia for 18 months.
And this year I have been invited along to the Caulfield Cup Young Members with a bunch of mates.

I have said yes and have even bought my dress and got excited and listened to countless warnings about pacing myself and not carrying my shoes and puking at the end of the day.

But it's not the pacing myself, puking, shoe carrying, slutty outfit issues that are my main concern. It's the inherent cruelty of horse racing itself. Am I a vegan fraud for going to the races? Or is it ok that I'm deciding it's something you gotta do once and by this time next year I may well be even more against the idea of the races to the point I never go.

Abolitionist approach aside, how cruel is it? I'm a bit clueless on it and only know of the whipping, and the deaths associated with jumps. Do I even want to know now that I am going for certain this year? Do vegans go to the races?