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Practicing Non-Harming Toward Yourself and the World

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EU Allows Sales of Misshapen Veggies

Yep, that’s right. Until now, the European Union has not allowed the sale of “oddly-sized or misshapen fruit and vegetables being sold in Europe.” (BBC News)

The rules were introduced to ensure common EU standards, but are regarded by critics as examples of Euro-madness.

Some 20% of produce is rejected by shops across the EU because it fails to meet the current requirements.

No kidding about the “Euro-madness!” 20% of food is thrown away. That is such an incredible waste, just because the veggies aren’t perfect. People have been spoiled into believing that produce has to be big, beautiful, and flawless. However, the only reason supermarkets are full of such products is because the fruits and veggies are either gassed, grown in a greenhouse, or pumped full of pesticides and chemicals (or, more likely, a combination of the three). They have no flavor. None at all.

From my experience working in local produce, the uglier the produce is usually the best. Sure, our local tomatoes might be small and a little spotty, but once you bite into one you understand the charm of using little or no chemical sprays and of buying from your local farmers. The sad truth is that most people don’t give the “ugly” vegetables a chance, they head right for the mass-agriculture-produced tomatoes that have such a mild flavor.

Life right now is pretty good for people living in the developed world, where we have the luxury of being stubbornly picky. But life isn’t going to stay this way. Every day we see a few more signs of how dangerous global warming is going to be, and the food and water shortages that will undoubtedly result. Better care needs to be taken of the world’s current food production issues. This not only includes fruits and vegetables, but also factory farming. This sort of production is advancing the effects of global warming at a rate that can no longer be ignored.

The best diet for the earth is one based on locally produced fruits, nuts, and vegetables. The simpler you keep your diet, the better it will be for both yourself and the planet.

Tyson Lying About “Antibiotic-Free” Label

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Although Tyson Foods has been selling their meat products under the antibiotic-free label, it turns out that their claim is in fact not true. It turns out that Tyson has been injecting antibiotics into unhatched chicks, and the USDA is not too happy about it. However, Tyson feels that their practice is alright, and they are actually suing the USDA in order to keep their antibiotic-free label.

According to Natural News, this is not the first time Tyson has had issues with the USDA for not keeping their antibiotic-free promise:

After Tyson began labeling its chicken antibiotic-free, the USDA warned the company that such labels were not truthful, because Tyson regularly treats its birds’ feed with bacteria-killing ionophores. Tyson argued that ionophores are antimicrobials rather than antibiotics, but the USDA reiterated its policy that “ionophores are antibiotics.”

People have the right to know what they are putting into their bodies, and the false claims made by Tyson and other food (including but not limited to meat) companies only serve to frustrate and confuse consumers. For example, the “Natural” label on a product is practically meaningless. There are some strong requirements for selected foods, such as certified organic products, but the labels do not yet go far enough. We need strict guidelines that let the customer know exactly what they are getting with a product, such as labels that explicitly explain what “cage-free” and “free range” mean.

Treehugger

First Dog to be a Shelter Dog!

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After promising his two daughters that they could have a dog if he won the election, President-Elect Barack Obama and his family will adopt a dog from a shelter.

Everytime someone buys an animal from a pet store or breeder, an animal in a shelter has one less opportunity to find a loving home. There are a number of problems with buying pure-bred animals, such as health problems and the cruelty of puppy mills. Less obvious are the sheltler animals who go unadopted for so long, and are sometimes (usually, in fact) put to sleep.

Hopefully the Obamas’s choice will be influential to others across the United States. I also feel that the adoption of a shelter dog is just one more action that proves that the presidency of Barack Obama will be different from anything we’ve had in the past. He will be more connected to the American people, and his non-elitist ways form a bond between him and the people that he governs.

A Great Night for America – Obama Wins

I’m sorry for posting this here. I know it’s not vegan related. But I am so unbelievable happy. I’ve been crying out of joy for almost 40 minutes now. (cross posted at Karmic Reverberations)
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Tonight is a wonderful night for America. Barack Obama has won what is one of the most important elections in U.S. history, and has become the first African-American to become the president. He has broken the barrier, and, I hope, will not stop there. Obama has the opportunity to turn America around and make our country so much better. Good luck, President Obama. Make history.

I’ve been glued to CNN since 6pm. The moment they announced Barack Obama as the president-elect, I burst into tears. I’m still crying. I’m so proud of America and of everyone who voted today. I’m so gleefully happy that the John McCain supporters booing Obama can be ignored during McCain’s fair speech. I’m thrilled that I will be able to tell future generations that I saw history made, and that I was a part of it.

Congratulations President Obama.

New e. coli strain that exclusively targets meat-eaters

Omnivores have something new to worry about besides their artery-clogging, diabetes-prone culinary lifestyle. A new strain of e.coli targest meat-eaters exclusively.

The bacterium – a strain of Escherichia coli – makes a toxin that does its worst by latching onto a sugar molecule that humans don’t have naturally. We can, only acquire it by eating red meat or dairy products.

The researchers who discovered this new danger thinks the acid the new strain of e.coli attaches itself to, GC, could be responsible in part for other meat related illnesses, such as “cancer, heart attack, and autoimmunity.”

New Scientist – Toxic bug has meat-eaters in its sights

Legal Ivory Sale in Namibia

The NY Times says this about the sale of ivory:

It is a question never easily resolved: Can the trade in ivory ever be conducted in a way that protects elephants from poachers? Or is it simply too naive to assume that poachers will not always find a conduit – legal or illegal – to market their wares?

Well, it could be easily resolved by continuing to leave the trade illegal and by heavily prosecuting poachers. But that’s not what Namibia is doing. The southern African nation will be holding four legally authorized ivory markets, the first of which is today. Nations such as China and Japan have 108 metric tons of ivory to purchase and choose from.

The United Nations approves of this sale, so long as it only occurs once every nine years. Although the UN specifies that the revenues made during the sale “must be used exclusively for elephant conservation and community development programs within or adjacent to the elephant range,” it would seem to be a better plan to not allow ivory trading at all.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has released a shocking statistic: that the amount of ivory to be sold in this legal sale is equivalent to “10,000-plus dead elephants.”

Although the elephant population in African has grown in recent years, the ivory trade continues to pose a threat to their safety. After ivory became a economically viable trade, the elephant population shrunk from in the millions to around 600,000. Eventually an international ban on ivory sales was put in place, but the trade continued to hurt elephants, and the animals quickly became endangered.

Luckily, a little progress was made when eBay decided to no longer sell ivory through it’s website. Now if they would just stop selling fur and leather.

Update: Bear Killed on WCU Campus

Here’s a bit of an update on yesterday’s post about someone shooting a bear cub in the head, draping it in Obama signs, and leaving it at the entrance of (my own) WCU campus.

According to our state of police, seven people have been interviewed about the incidents. It seems this was a prank rather than a political statement. Supposedly, they found the already-dead body of the bear while “searching for firewood.” They threw the body in their truck and decided to put it at the Catamount statute at the university’s entrance. The signs were just to stop the blood from getting on their truck. I don’t know if any of this is true or not, especially since they had plenty of time to put a story together.

No charges have been filed thus far. Let’s hope that changes. This has put a damper of the university, who doesn’t need or want this kind of negative publicity.

WCU: 7 suspects interviewed, call WCU bear incident a prank, not political

Bear killed and wrapped in Obama signs on Campus

I have never been more disappointed at the people on my campus. I’m a sophmore at WCU, and until now I haven’t seen signs of this much hate and cruelty here.

Why am I upset? Because a dead baby bear was found at the entrance to campus, shot in the head, with Obama signs around its neck.

I’m guessing no one knows who did it, and it’s not clear whether this was politically motivated. But it is horribly cruel. I’m starting a vegetarian club on campus, and this will probably be the first thing we talk about. If anyone has any ideas about actions we could take, let me know. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole thing.

Here’s the Daily Kos article. WCU is finally making national headlines, albeit for something terrible. I can’t even express how mad I am at the people who did this.

Iran Kills Hundreds of Ostriches

Iran is attempting to becoming a much, much crueler place. From BBC News:

Cooks in Iran have tried to assemble the world’s largest ostrich sandwich at a food festival in Tehran, as part of a bid to promote healthy eating. …

About 1,500 cooks used 1,000kg (2,200lbs) of ostrich meat to make the 1,500m (4,920ft) long sandwich.

I guess they don’t know how much healthier a vegan diet than than ostrich.

This is so depression. Who knows how many ostriches were killed to pull of this ridiculous stunt. Not only is it cruel and unnecessary, it’s wasteful. The other non-meat ingredients could’ve been used to actually, you know, feed people. I cringe every time I see a story like this on the news. Biggest cookie, muffin, whatever. We need to stop wasting food and focus on healthier, vegan eating and feeding starving people.

Switzerland thinks plants feel

Geez, this is just going to influence the “but plants have feelings and you eat them” crowd. *sigh*

From Treehugger:

What does wheat want? That’s a question scientists in Switzerland have to ponder now that the country is mandating that geneticists conduct their experiments with consideration to a plant’s feelings, according to The Washington Post

In order to obtain government permission to do a field trial of genetically modified, fungus-resistant wheat, [Beat] Keller had to spar with university ethicists over wheter his experiment would impugn upon the plants’ dignity and then explain in a written application to the government why his experiment wouldn’t “disturb the vital functions of lifestyle” of the plant.

Wow. Usually I love Switzerland and their quite liberal government, but this goes a bit too far. I’m not an expert on plants, so I can’t 100% promise that plants don’t have feelings. It just seems really, really unlikely. No central nervous system, no brain or brain-like organ.

What do you think? Should this new Swiss law be extended, or are they taking it too far?

Whale Oil in Space

Thanks to Treehugger (a great environmental blog you should check out), I now know that NASA uses whale oil as a lubricant when sending their missions into space.

Science has progressed so far, especially within the last few decades, that I find it hard to believe that America’s top minds haven’t found a feasible synthetic alternative to whale oil. There are teams working on everything from invisibility to solar powered clothing. This seems like it may be a wee bit easier than those.

There’s only one way to obtain whale oil: Whaling. In many countries there is a commerical whaling ban, which means the US government either ignored that or purchased the oil from a country such as Japan which still allows whaling. The practice is horribly cruel. The World Society for the Protection of Animals explains:

Whales are usually killed with an explosive harpoon that detonates inside the whale’s body. If the first harpoon fails to kill the whale, then a second penthrite harpoon or a rifle is used. … Some whales take over an hour to die.

New Threat

Vegans and animal rights activist may have to deal with a new form of animal exploitation: fuel.

There is a new company called Dynamic Fuels that will make fuel from “non-food grade animal fats such as beef tallow, pork lard, chicken fat and greases.” Animal rights isn’t the only problem here. Matthew McDermott over at Treehugger brings up a great point: “If it uses beef fat could it be used in good conscience by Hindus? Pork fat: Muslims or Jews?”

I’m a huge fan of new clean energy innovations that will inevitably save us from a very bleek future, but there’s no way this is clean. All animal rights aside for a moment, this “non-food” animal sources will still be coming from factory farming. The UN, along with other organizations, has repeatedly told us that factory farms are a major contributor to global warming. Granted, environmental consciousness isn’t at the heart of Tyson, who is a partner in this project. Why are they doing this? Tyson’s Jeff Webster says “The demand is partially driven by fuel prices, but the larger factors are energy independence and national security concerns about relying on foreign imports.” It won’t be long before they’re trying to tout the enviroment postivities that are completely absent.

Canadian Meat Recall

Toronto’s Maple Leaf meat plant is recalling all of their products due to the bacteria listeriosis. So far, there have been at least four deaths, with 17 more being investigated. Unlike e-coli, many people are unfamiliar with Listeria monocytogenes.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  listeriosis is “a serious infection … [that] affects primarily persons of advanced age, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.”

This is just one more meat recall that should alert people to the dangers of the unsanitary and unsafe factory farming industry. The animals carry this bacteria without appearing to be ill, and thus they are routinely killed and packaged. Which doesn’t help the people who die.

CDC: Listeriosis General Information

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