Essex Pig Save Vigil – Bearing Witness to Pigs – 7/11/16

Yesterday we had another vigil at Cheale Meats in Essex, to say goodbye to some beautiful pigs arriving for slaughter.

It’s always a surreal feeling, that the vigil is considered a success if we are able to see some trucks of pigs. Obviously we don’t want the trucks to be there at all, and in an ideal world they wouldn’t be, but while intelligent animals are still needlessly being killed for food, it is our aim to comfort as many as possible.

So yesterday we managed to see a few trucks, most of which had their shutters up so it was difficult to see the animals inside. But later on, we were able to get a closer look. The pigs were scared, cramped and almost looking to us for some kind of explanation. All we could do was comfort them in any way possible, and document their important journey.

The Save Movement now has over 20 groups in the UK that all have regular vigils, with new groups starting all the time. Slaughterhouses that have been hidden for so long are being exposed, and people are beginning to make the connection, and realise that they don’t want to be paying for these cruel practices. There is a great injustice going on every day, every hour, every minute. Most people would claim to be animal lovers, but this means loving all animals, not just those we share our homes with. I found the following words from Essex Pig Save, which I think beautifully sum up what The Save Movement is doing, so I will leave you with this.

Hide me in the shadows, kill me in the darkness,

and all will be forgotten…

But shine a light upon my death, and I will be everywhere,

and justice will be my name.

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Take Action!

Essex Pig Save

Toronto Pig Save

The Save Movement

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Vegfest London 2016 Round Up!

There’s been so much hype surrounding this year’s Vegfest London. I’ve been lucky enough to talk to some of the inspirational speakers and athletes including Kate Strong, Rebecca Fox, Marta Zaraska and Fiona Oakes. All in all, I had pretty high expectations for the event which I wrote about last year and the year before. It turns out, this year’s Vegfest completely excelled my expectations, and was bigger and better than any of the previous years!

This was partly due to space – this year the whole of London Olympia was hired out to accommodate around 13,500 visitors and a whole host of vegan businesses. This meant a lot more space throughout, and each talk had it’s own conference room, which really did make a huge difference.

The stalls were great, and I was introduced to so many vegan businesses I didn’t know about before. Some of my favourite purchases from new (well new to me, at least!) businesses came from Veggie Pets (for my newly converted vegan cats and dog), Love Libby X, Ananda Foods and Ethics & Antics. Plus I couldn’t resist a few buys from some of my old favourites – Ms Cupcake, Viva La Vegan and Hillside Animal Sanctuary! There really was something for everyone, and it was great to see so many unique, high quality products from 100% vegan businesses.

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Adorable necklace from Love Libby X.
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Ananda Foods Orang E-Tang.
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Vegfest isn’t complete without a visit to Ms Cupcake!

But the thing that made Vegfest extra special for me this year was the amazing speakers. It’s easy to get carried away with the awesome vegan food and shopping downstairs to forget about the talks, but I really would recommend catching a couple. I managed to listen to Christine ‘Peanut’ Vardaros give excellent advice for thriving on a vegan diet to fuel regular exercise and Tim Shieff give an interesting talk about water, something I hadn’t thought too much about before. But one person whose talk I’m always going to remember is David Smith MBE. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after David shared his incredible story of battling illness and how veganism changed his life. I felt so moved by his story; it really hit home how precious every day is, and it was a real privilege to listen to him share this important journey.

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Overall, I’m sure everybody attending will agree Vegfest London was a huge success! It’s so great to see so many new businesses and more people attending every year, which just goes to prove how much the movement is growing. I’m already looking forward to seeing what next year has in store. šŸ™‚

Fearmans ‘Pork’ Show No Mercy for Pigs – Tragedy in Canada

Yesterday in Burlington, Canada, a terrible tragedy occurred when a truck transporting pigs to slaughter at Fearmans ‘Pork’ overturned. What happened next has left people around the world completely heartbroken.

Activists from Toronto Pig Save rushed to the scene where the truck was, just outside Fearmans slaughterhouse. From live video streams on social media, the employees of the slaughterhouse can be seen trying to cover up what was happening with sheets of cardboard. But it was clear to see that there were dead and injured pigs from this completely traumatising event. Fearmans ‘Pork’ slaughters 10,000 pigs every single day, so you would think they would spare the lives of these innocent victims, right?

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Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case. Fearmans employees actually rounded up the survivors of the attack and took them into the slaughterhouse, where they would be killed in a gas chamber. In the Fearmans car park, the employees can be seen using the sheets of cardboard to herd the pigs into the slaughterhouse…you can’t make this stuff up! For the survivors, this would have been the first time in their lives that they felt the sunshine on their backs or the grass on their feet. Having survived such a traumatising accident where some of their friends had died, the innocent animals seemed to have no idea of the hellhole they were about to enter.

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There were also pigs that were unable to walk and collapsed outside, near the truck. Along with the activists, Steve Jenkins, father of Esther the Wonder Pig, was present and was eager to take the pigs to his sanctuary. These pigs that can no longer walk are what the industry call ‘downed’ animals, and no profit can be made from them by selling their bodies as meat. So what is it to them if a sanctuary takes a couple of downed animals that would be no use to them anyway? Activists begged for the slaughterhouse to show mercy to these poor pigs, but Fearmans showed absolutely none and killed them on the spot. The photograph below shows one pig comforting his downed companion, before being marched to his own death.

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Anita Krajnc, Co-Founder of Toronto Pig Save, who is currently on trial for ‘criminal mischief’ after feeding water to a dehydrated pig (read all about it here) was arrested at the scene. Understandably, emotions were running high and people were trying to document this completely surreal and heartbreaking event. Police dragged Anita from the scene and into a police car. After her release, she organised an all-night vigil at Fearmans, to pay respect to the animals who were involved in this terrible tragedy, and to the animals that continue to suffer unbearable cruelty every single day, all for human greed.

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Having visited this exact location in the summer where I got to bear witness to pigs heading for slaughter, I found watching this live, as it happened, completely unfathomable. And to think that the bodies of these poor souls are now on their way to Canada supermarkets to be sold and eaten. I urge you to watch the videos on Toronto Pig Save’s Facebook Page and consider this – is this the sort of industry you want to support? Animals are being killed for food every second of the day, but establishments such as Fearmans ‘Pork’ do all they can to keep it hidden. With incidents such as this, they can’t hide what they’re doing.

Now you know the truth – what will you do about it?

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Get Informed:

Toronto Pig Save Facebook Page

Toronto SunĀ coverage

CTV News coverage

CBC coverage

Global News coverage

Vegfest London Countdown – Vegan Athletes Summit – Kate Strong

When gazing at her list of achievements, you may wonder if thereā€™s anything Kate Strong hasnā€™t done – World Champion triathlete, multiple-award winning entrepreneur, multi-linguist, globe-trotter, philanthropist, author, engineer and of course vegan! I caught up with Kate this week to find out what we can expect from her at Vegfest London.

What are you most looking forward to about speaking at VegFest London?

I am looking forward to meeting 14,000 other positiveĀ individuals who are allĀ committed to making a positive change in the world! I want to meet as many people as possible fromĀ the business owners, the cooks, chefs, vegansĀ andĀ people interested in this movement!

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When and why did you choose a vegan lifestyle?

Iā€™ve been vegan for over 2 years. Initially, the choice was motivated through meĀ ā€˜feeling betterā€™ when I was eating fruit and vegetables and eliminating dairyĀ and animal products, yet after having researched and read more aboutĀ the impact on other species, the environment and otherĀ communities, I am 100%Ā committed to whole-food plant-based diet as I see it as the answer to saving the world.

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Youā€™ve had some pretty amazing achievements! What would you say has been your biggest challenge in your athletic career?

Thank you :). My biggest challenge in my athletic careerĀ occurred last year when I started hanging around quite aĀ few successful athletes, yet their attitude was one ofĀ ā€˜Have to achieveā€™Ā and comparing results to others. I started to do the same, which led me to loosing my passion for the sport and the reason why I started in the first place:Ā because I love it!
Breaking free from thisĀ group and investing time into rekindling my passion toĀ strive for excellence without any ego attached meant Iā€™m back on track and raring to go!

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Whatā€™s next for you?

At VegFest, we are arranging for me toĀ attempt to break a World Record on a static bicycle, so for the next month or so, I am gearing up for this. Afterwardsā€¦ who knows! I want to help more and more people transition into a more positive and conscious state of living and working, so there will beĀ courses, books, seminars and events rolling out under my brand very soon so watch this space!

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An exciting time indeed! You can find out more about Kate and her incredible achievements here.

Donā€™t forget to catch Kateā€™s talk on Saturday 22nd October – Vegan Athletes Summit – 4pm – Vegfest London.

Vegan, Cruelty-Free Hair Dye That’s GOOD for Your Hair?!

…does such a thing exist?! Well it turns out, yes it does!

Continuing my journey into the world of vegan and cruelty-free beauty, it has definitely been a learning curve so far.Ā Almost exactly a year ago, I posted my first blog about cruelty-free cosmetics (check out ‘The World of Cruelty-Free Cosmetics’) and since then I’ve talked about some of favourite brands, including Superdrug’s B RangeĀ and Kat Von D Beauty (just arrived for sale in the UK!). But one thing I’ve never talked about before, is vegan hair-dye.

Now granted, this was mostly because I was pretty skeptical that such a thing even existed. So I put off dying my hair for so long, but when I felt like it needed a little bit of a lift, I did some research, and this was the brand I went for…

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Tints of Nature…ever heard of them? Me neither! But the good news is they are available online at a price pretty similar to all those hair dyes you would find on the high street. Check out their website here.

Now, the thing that’s extra great about Tints of Nature is not only is it completely vegan and cruelty-free, all the ingredients are completely organic. With no ammonia and a non GMO formula that promises not to damage your hair like all the harsh chemicals you would normally find in hair dye. Too good to be true? I thought it might be, so I opted for a semi-permanent colour just to be safe.

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This Medium Chestnut Brown (Semi-Permanent) colour even comes ready mixed so there’s even less to do than with the usual high street hair dyes! It also didn’t smell of…well strong chemicals really! The whole dying process was a lot less messy. I was also surprised that it covered the leftover bleach at the end of my hair from when I had ombre highlights put in ages ago. Here’s the finished result…

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Tints of Nature gets a thumbs up from me, how nice is it to know that the production of your hair dye has not harmed any beautiful animals? Next time I might go a little braver and try a dark red!

Vegfest London Countdown – Vegan Activists Summit – Rebecca Fox

Rebecca Fox is another speaker that will be appearing at VegFest Londonā€™s Vegan Activists Summit on Saturday 22nd October. Rebecca is part of the team behind the blog Reasonable Vegan (www.rvgn.org) – ā€˜Promoting skeptical inquiry in vegan spaces, confronting irrationality everywhere.ā€™ I caught up with Rebecca this week, and hereā€™s what she had to say about VegFest (and vegan cheese!).

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What are you most looking forward to about speaking at VegFest London?

Iā€™ve been attending Vegfest for a few years now and have always thought of it as a place to try out new foods and products, (I have in the past threatened to bring my own extra-long cocktail stick to reach through the crowds to the vegan cheese tasters!) but also as a place to be exposed to new ideas and reinvigorate my commitment to veganism.

So, I am looking forward to presenting ideas that are new to many in the vegan community but will support and inspire people to be better advocates.Ā 

When Iā€™ve spoken to groups of vegans about critical thinking skills in the past Iā€™ve found them to be receptive and thoughtful (which is probably why they became vegan) so I also look forward to meeting and connecting with compassionate people and discussing how we approach the world as reasonable vegans.

ā€¦and what do you hope to achieve from it?

Iā€™m hoping that my talk at Vegfest will give me the opportunity to share my passion for veganism and give the audience the opportunity to learn some of the critical thinking skills that I find useful and important. I want to empower vegans to use reason and evidence to support their message of compassion and make our movement stronger.

Iā€™m also hoping to try some new brands of vegan cheese!

When and why did you become vegan?

When I was ten years old I realised that meat was made from animals, well, I kind of knew that before but at age ten I think I began to understand what that really meant. And so I became a vegetarian.

I was a vegetarian until in my mid twenties I was introduced to scientific skepticism, which is basically a method for understanding the world built on the principles of reason and evidence. I realised that a lot of things that I believed about the world and myself were ā€˜unreasonableā€™ (not based on reason and evidence). So I started thinking about my beliefs one by one and changing or discarding the unreasonable ones.

Then I came to my vegetarianismā€¦ and I realised that the reason I was vegetarian was because I didnā€™t want to cause unnecessary harm to animalsā€¦ but there was plenty of evidence that the dairy, eggs and other animal products I consumed did cause unnecessary harm.

So I had to give them up, and I became vegan.

It wasnā€™t as hard as I thought it would be even though at the time I was living in Australia and had to negotiate many a barbecue somewhat awkwardly. As a vegan Iā€™ve travelled through many different countries and Iā€™m finding itā€™s getting easier with every day as I learn more about food and as more and more people learn about veganism.

Recently I was at a vegan braai in Cape Town and couldnā€™t help reflecting on how far Iā€™d come from those first awkward barbies where I often found myself drinking too much on an empty stomach!

What are your future plans for ‘Reasonable Veganā€™?

RVGN started as a blog, my partner a few skeptical friends and I dreamed up as a place to host articles by and for reasonable vegans. Weā€™ve published a lot of interesting articles and interviews over the last few years and met a lot of fellow reasonable vegans.Ā 

Weā€™ve been discussing what we think the vegan community needs and what we can do to spread the vegan message. We have decided that we want to focus on giving vegans the opportunity to hone their critical thinking skills in order to make them better advocates and presenting a solid evidence backed resource to help convince non-vegans to go vegan!

So our new project is building a site and maybe an app that will help vegans become more reasonable and reasonable people become vegan. Itā€™s in the very early stages of development (in fact you are among the first to know) but you can keep up with our progress by following us on twitter.

So there you have it, a VegFest exclusive about the future plans for Reasonable Vegan! If youā€™d like to find out more, be sure to catch Rebecca at the Vegan Activists Summit at 3pm on Saturday 22nd October! Canā€™t wait till then? Be sure to check out www.rvgn.org

Essex Pig Save Vigil with Emily from Bite Size Vegan

Yesterday I attended another Essex Pig Save vigil at Cheale Meats, Brentwood, to bear witness to pigs on their way to slaughter. We were joined by Bite Size Vegan, Vegan Revolution and The Vegan Activist, along with a whole host of dedicated animal activists who came to offer compassion to the pigs who were being transported today.

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It was a boiling hot day, and after standing outside for a while, the heat made everyone pretty uncomfortable. This would have been nothing compared to what the pigs felt.

Hot, cramped and dehydrated pigs on the last part of their final journey. We tried to offer as much comfort to the pigs as we could by feeding them water and looking into their eyes, viewing them as the intelligent, gentle and sentient beings they are.

Click here to see video of dehydrated pigs as witnessed by Essex Pig Save.

After getting up close to one pig in particular, I was taken aback by just how beautiful these animals are. I was faced with these incredible blue eyes looking back at me. This pig was scared and, like most of his friends, seemed to know what was coming next.

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This image has stuck with me since yesterday, and so has something else. A lot of people that attend the vigils comment how seeing an empty truck come out of the slaughterhouse has such an eerie feeling about it, and I completely agree. The employee driving one particular truck slowed down as he reached us, having just transported a group of pigs to their deaths. He spat out his words, angrily shouting at us to move out the way with a vulgar threat involving throwing pig body parts at us. I felt completely bewildered by this moment, but one thing became really clear to me. This was the sheer contrast between the peaceful, gentle and innocent animals that we had just witnessed in the back of the truck, compared to the behaviour of the human driving them to their deaths. And the most unfathomable thing of all – not only is this legal, but it is actually paid for by the vast majority of the population.

Since writing about Toronto Pig Save last year (view here) and then attending the first Essex Pig Save (view here), followed by several more in Toronto, I am learning how to use all the sadness, anger and frustration I feel about how the world has treated such beautiful animals, and turn this into motivation to do as much as I can to change it. This is the power of bearing witness.

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Yesterday evening, I also went to see Emily from Bite Size Vegan’s talk about veganism and animal activism. Listening to her really cemented for me something that I had thought about earlier. As vegans, we can often possess the same quality as non-vegans in that we still turn away from what these animals are going through. The least we can do is recognise their struggle. I have never believed in the huge importance of bearing witness more than after everything that I had experienced today.

Short clip of Emily from Bite Size Vegan’s speech here!

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FIND OUT MORE!

Check out the following links to find more information about save vigils in England. Not one in your area? Contact Manchester Pig Save to find out how you can start your own!

Essex Pig Save

Manchester Pig Save

Farnborough Animal Save

Hertfordshire Chicken Save

Also be sure to check out more from Bite Size Vegan on her YouTube channel here!