Thursday, November 3, 2016

LIFTING THE VEIL - November 2016

by Fireweed for the Island Word, November 2016 issue

Donald Watson climbing 
mountain on his 93rd birthday 
     November 1st, in case you didn't know, was World Vegan Day. Just 2 days earlier this year in London, England, 2,000 vocal animal liberationists took to the streets declaring that “a different future for animals is possible!” Such a demonstration would have been unheard of in 1944 when teacher and conscientious objector Donald Watson (originator of the word 'vegan') and five cohorts co-founded the UK Vegan Society. By the time World Vegan Day was established to commemorate the Society's 50th anniversary, no one could recall the exact day in November the organization had been born. Louise Wallis, Chair of the Society in 1994 later explained her choice: “I decided to go for November 1st partly because I liked the idea of this date coinciding with Samhain/Hallowe'en and the Day of the Dead – traditional times for feasting and celebration, both apt and auspicious.”

Watch the trailer here

     Commercialization has certainly played a role in transforming Hallowe'en from a time of honouring ancestors and loved ones in the spirit world into far less reverential engagement with the cyclical mysteries of life and death. I'll never understand how feelings of fear can be embraced as a kind of entertainment, but apparently there are plenty of people who crave having the bejeezus scared out of them! When early Hallowe'en revellers in Ontario showed up for a free film billed as “possibly the scariest movie ever created” they were taking their chances. However, few were prepared for the frightening realities revealed in “Earthlings,” Shaun Monson's 2005 documentary about the way animals are routinely treated in the entertainment, research, clothing and food industries. Apparently half of the movie-goers walked out angry in the first thirty minutes. In their opinion, the screening had been falsely advertised. Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance member Malcom Klimowicz disagreed with that allegation in an interview with the Canadian Press. “The true horror of the film,” he said, “comes from the fact that it depicts real events.” 

Animal Rights March, London England, Oct. 29th, 2016
photo credit: Jack Taylor, Getty Images Europe
     When Animal Justice lawyer Anna Pippus weighed in on social media about the unconventional showing of “Earthlings”, she opined that those angry about deception really need to be asking themselves why they aren't angry about what's happening to animals. Such a perspective would most certainly have been shared by last weekend's demonstrators in England, as it is among the growing social justice movement for animals here in Canada. Its been 16 years since Monson's powerful film first shocked the world with its unflinching expose, yet as Mercy for Animals' recent undercover investigation in a turkey slaughterhouse discloses, plenty of egregious animal suffering is going on behind closed doors right now, right here in our own country that should definitely outrage us all.

photo credit: Mercy for Animals
click here to watch W5's "Fowl Business"
      CTV News aired the Lilydale turkey story in a W5 segment with reporter Victor Malarek called “Fowl Business,” and it is available to viewers online. I will spare you the details, but one worker in the BC slaughterhouse recorded by Mercy for Animals' undercover investigator describes torturous incidents he himself has witnessed time and time again on the job as nothing less than a “f-ing horror show.” Earlier last month animal advocates celebrated a victory when it was learned that several individuals have agreed to plead guilty in a criminal case resulting from hidden camera footage obtained over two years ago on an Abbotsford dairy farm, also through Mercy for Animals. But
Fowl Business” is another wake-up call for consumers of animal products, most importantly because the disturbing cruelty it reveals has been declared by management and so-called experts like Temple Grandin as constituting totally legal, standard industry practises.

     As animal welfarist Ruth Harrison wrote in “Animal Machines” (1964): “In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to a lot of animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.” 

     The W5 report concludes by emphasizing that there are 'less cruel' ways to slaughter turkeys.  Reform is slow, and cruelty should be abolished not regulated. The good news is that choosing a 100% plant-based diet has never been easier for those of us with the privilege of choice. In fact, among compassionate food bloggers dedicated to inspiring others with delicious vegan recipe ideas, the entire month of November is now celebrated as Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food) online.  Click HERE for over 100 links to official participants, and HERE for a compact list of vegan resources compiled by BC musician and social justice activist Elyse Belladonna in honor of World Vegan Food Day and Vegan MoFo! 

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup (with thanks to The Buddhist Chef!)

1 sweet potato
1 onion
3 carrots
2 T. olive oil 
1/8 tsp. nutmeg 
1/4 tsp. cinnamon 
1/4 tsp. ground cumin 
1/4 tsp. turmeric 
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable stock 

Roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness! Preheat your oven to 350 F and coarsely chop the vegetables. Toss them in a bowl with the oil and spices, mixing well. Bake for 30 minutes on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. After removing from the oven, place in a saucepan or sturdy blender and drain off any excess oil. Add your veggie stock (I use palm-oil free and organic Better Than Bouillon, available at Edible Island).Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the veggies are tender (about 15-20 minutes). Blend in batches with an immersion blender or puree until smooth in your Vitamix or similar kitchen appliance. Enjoy!