Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This band makes it worth listening to my boyfriend play Grand Theft Auto... among the shooting and screaming, he'll get into a car and this band will come on, and they make the anxiety from the shooting and screaming disappear and I find myself smiling and bopping to the music. They are awesome.

... and the lead singer figure skates!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bob Torres essay for Opposing Views

I wanted to share Bob's essay with you guys... Bob is such an interesting writer and I always find his views really fascinating. Bob inspires me to think critically... I like that. Unfortunately, my writing is not half as interesting... at least not at the moment. I just got into a (very minor) accident and dented my front rim. Slid on some black ice. Ahhh Canada. I might have to get a new wheel tomorrow, we'll have to see if my tire is flat in the morning.

Anyway, don't want to focus on that. I want to focus on Bob's interesting piece of writing. You can find more Bob at veganfreak.net or blog.veganfreak.com.

Here we go:

I was approached by the folks over at OpposingViews.com to weigh in on the debate over whether or not animals should have the same rights as people. What follows below is the quick essay I submitted to them. You can find the full debate here if their site starts working correctly..there have been transient failures all weekend.
In one episode of the 1980s absurd British sitcom “The Young Ones,” Neil, the hippie of the group, famously quipped “vegetable rights and peace!” comically upping his hippie cred into the stratosphere. Hippies, of course, are presumed to be for rights for all kinds of things: trees, rocks, water, air, and, of course, animals. Not being a hippie myself, I can’t really speak to the arguments for granting non-sentient things like trees rights (though there is a rather compelling environmental case to be made for protecting them from what economists call the “externalities” of capitalist industrial production) but it is worth thinking about why animals should be accorded at least some of the rights that we bipedal primates called “humans” enjoy.
To begin with, despite the question as posed, I don’t think animals should have the same rights as humans in all cases. Granting the dogs I live with a right to free speech or the right to vote is pointless (insert your own joke here about the election and re-election of George W. Bush). Instead, I’m advocating for something that is much more simple. In the respects that animals are like us—most notably, in their ability to feel pain, have subjective experiences, and value their own continued existence—animals should have rights similar to the rights we have. In the broadest terms, this would mean that we’d have to stop eating and wearing them, experimenting on them, and bringing them into existence for our own ends.
Anyone who lives with a cat or a dog knows that animals not only have personalities, but that they also have memories, fears, wants, and desires. The dogs and cat that I live with seek out comfort, avoid pain, and desire companionship, and it is clear to me that they suffer as acutely as I do (if not more acutely) when they are hurt, or sick, or scared. Moreover, having spent time around animals ultimately destined for slaughter, I also know that pigs and cows and chickens are also capable of these same pleasures and pains, and what appears to be a subjective awareness of their surroundings, yet for reasons that no one can really justify, we snuggle up with one set of animals called “pets,” while we eat another set of animals called “livestock.”
When it comes down to it, the case for animal rights is really a case for adopting a thorough moral and ethical stance in favor of treating like cases alike. My own outlook has been shaped by the ethical theory of Gary L. Francione, who argues that though animals and humans are clearly different, they are alike in the sense that they both suffer, and are both sentient. For this reason, Francione argues, animals should receive equal moral consideration. Most importantly, this would mean extending to animals inherent value, or really bringing them into the moral community by recognizing that certain aspects of their personhood cannot be “sold away” or sacrificed for the benefit of another. Put most simply, because animals are like us in some relevant regards, they should be treated like we would be treated in those instances.
The tired objections that animals do not deserve rights because they lack rationality, or language, or human levels of intelligence, or whatever arbitrary characteristics anthropocentric philosophers decide are important are so self-serving as to be almost comical. The obvious problem with using qualities like these to exclude animals from moral consideration is that we can almost always find humans who also lack those qualities. A great many humans lack what we’d consider to be “normal” rational faculties, yet no one seriously suggests that the mentally disabled be enslaved, or that they should be used for food or medical experiments. Similarly, you may be smarter or more eloquent or stronger than I am, yet none of those attributes gives you the right to make me your property. Why? Because in the relevant regard that both you and I share in not being the chattel of another, no arbitrary criteria—not intelligence, rationality, language, eye color, skin color, gender, etc.—can be used to violate this basic right that guarantees our inherent value. Those of us who are for animal rights (and not simply for animal welfare) wish to make “species” another irrelevant criterion for deciding who does and does not get the basic rights accorded to members of our moral community.
Surely, the road ahead towards giving animals more thorough membership in our moral community is a long one. Veganism—not consuming animal products of any kind—is certainly the first step of many in this direction, and a step that everyone can take today. In spite of what Neil the hippie might think, vegetables don’t need rights, as they feel no pain, and have no sentience. Animals, however, are another story altogether.

By the way, you can get Bob & Jenna's book here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vegan Questionnaire

Hey readers,

I have a short, simple, but important (to me anyways) questionnaire. If you could take a couple of minutes and answer the following questions, I would greatly appreciate it! This will help me a lot in making LAVA the store you want it to be and hopefully opening up a physical location in the near future. We all want more stores that sell vegan products right?! right. So please either post your answers or email me your answers if you prefer not to post. Thanks so much!!

Where do you buy the following products?
- animal-friendly shoes
- animal-friendly belts
- animal-friendly accessories (purses, wallets, etc)
- cookbooks
- books about vegan nutrition/animal rights
- vegetarian paraphernalia (ie t-shirts, buttons, stickers etc)

Why do you buy these products where you buy them?
- cost
- brand (if so, which brands?)
- loyalty to a specific store (if so, which store?)
- convenience (location, ease of shopping, other?)
- other (pls explain)

How satisfied are you with the products and services received at the stores you've mentioned?
If you are not satisfied, why not?

Do you shop online for any of the above? If so, are the online stores you shop at local, in the US or elsewhere?

Generally, do you think it's easy to find quality vegan clothing & accessories (shoes, belts, bags without the use of animal products) or do you find it a challenge?
If you find it a challenge, why is that?

Do you think that there is a need for a store that carries a large variety of animal-friendly products including food, clothing, accessories, footwear and vegan books?

Any other comments regarding the supply of vegan products in Ontario?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Proposition 2

This news is a couple weeks old, but still extremely important...

(Nov. 4, 2008) – Voters in California approved an historic ballot measure to halt the inhumane confinement of animals on factory farms by an overwhelming margin. As of 11 PM PST, Prop 2 was leading 62% to 38%.

“California voters have taken a stand for decency and compassion and said that the systemic mistreatment of animals on factory farms cannot continue," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, the primary back of the YES! on Prop 2 campaign. "All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food.”

Proposition 2 ends the practice of confining certain animals raised for food in crates and cages so small the animals can barely move. Prop 2 requires that factory farms provide enough space for animals to stand up, turn around and extend their limbs. It applies to breeding pigs, egg laying hens and veal calves. Prop 2 goes into effect in January of 2015, giving factory farms six years to shift to different housing systems.

The YES! on Prop 2 campaign received donations from 25,000 individual contributors across the country. Thousands of volunteers worked to collect signatures, distribute campaign literature, and rallied to get out the vote for Prop 2.

Prop 2 attracted support from a broad coalition of organizations and leaders, including the California Veterinary Medical Association, United Farm Workers, State Humane Association of California, the Center for Food Safety, and the Consumer Federation of America, to name a few.
The opponents of Proposition 2 – agribusiness companies from throughout the nation – spent $9 million to try to defeat the ballot initiative.

I am of course thrilled that Californians made the right move here to make the lives of factory farmed animals a bit better. It's still not a life as far as I'm concerned, but any action to end or reduce suffering is a move in the right direction. I still want to point out that although these animals will have some more room to breath and move, they are still going to be oppressed, most likely tortured, and definitely slaughtered. Anyone who thinks that factory farmed animals will now have a great life thanks to Prop 2 is sadly mistaken. These animals are still in jail, it's just that they'll have bigger jail cells. The best thing anyone can do for these animals is to go vegetarian, or better yet, to end their suffering and the oppression of animals altogether, GO VEGAN.

I always have mixed feelings when it comes to news like this. I want to feel victorious... to feel like the score is now "animals 1, mean money making factory farm giants 0". Then I start thinking... woah... these farms have SIX YEARS to get rid of their battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates. SIX YEARS!! That is a hell of a long time! Do you think that anybody is going to put in the effort and money required to change their farms until the absolute last second?... doubtful. These are not little local farmers we're talking about. These are farms that put MILLIONS of dollars into opposing Proposition 2. (There is a little joy for the fact that they just spent all those millions for nothing!). Maybe I'm being negative, maybe I should just feel good that the law was passed... but I think 2 or 3 years would have been plenty of time to change over.

The 2nd thing that bugs me is this... Will the population now think that eating chicken, pigs and baby cows is "OK" because they have some more room to move. Will they think now that these animals are being farmed humanely?? Are they going to be blinded to the fact that these animals are still kicked, punched, thrown about, thrown into garbage dumpsters alive, blown up just for fun, slammed against the wall and more attrocities that I don't even want to know about? Is this just fueling the whole "Happy Meat" campaign? Let's not waste our time being too victorious about providing bigger jail cells... make a real change for the animals and GO VEGAN.

source: www.yesonprop2.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank

I just heard about the first ever Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank on my favourite podcast, Animal Voices. This is great. Every day it seems, I am filled with so much hope because of the steps that are being made in the veg movement (for lack of a better term). One day, Oprah is going vegan for 3 weeks, the next there is a spotlight on veganism on CNN, and now - the only Vegetarian Food Bank in north america opens it's doors in Toronto (okay, it officially opened back in May, so I'm a little behind the times). Someone is taking care of all the people who are struggling out there but who can't stomach the thought of eating dead animals, or who cannot eat animals for spiritual/religious reasons. I am sometimes asked by omnivores... "what would you do if you were stranded and there were no plants and you had to eat animals?" (see every vegan's "Top Ten Stupid Questions Asked by Omnivores"). First of all, I can't see ever finding myself in a situation where there was nothing plant based around to eat, and my only option is to either kill a bunny, or starve to death. Can't see it. I am fortunate to live in the country where I live, and to always have enough money to pay the bills and buy food. I'm not convinced that my grocery bills would be any more or less if I ate meat. However, I must admit, that I do spend more money on products that are less harmful to the environment (organic, biodegradeable, free from toxins, chemicals and other such garbage). Wait... I'm heading off on a tangent here.

Back to the point... if I was struggling and needed help in the way of a meal every week, I am thrilled that I could go to the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank and not have to pick the pork out of my beans or make the choice between accepting the free meal, despite the animal ingredients, or going hungry.

Hopefully, this event will inspire Vegetarian food banks to open up all across north america.

To donate or to help them out - please call 416-744-4357 or visit www.vegfoodbank.com (site currently under construction)

also check out the article in The Toronto Star.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Animal Voices = Number 1

Lately I've been listening to a lot of podcasts. I'm totally addicted. My commute to work is 1/2 hour each way (soon to be 1 hour each way - boo!) and I don't know what I did before podcasts! Yes, I do actually. I was BORED. Bored by the radio, unless I happened to catch a really interesting show or a good song. Mostly though, I would flip stations from one overplayed song to the next. When I got my ipod, it was great. I could listen to my own music at least. But podcasts are the best, and Animal Voices is number one. I used to think it was Vegan Freak. Don't get me wrong, Vegan Freak rocks, but it doesn't come out enough. Bob & Jenna try, they lead very busy lives... I love their podcast and found myself literally waiting every week for the next one to come out. Sometimes I wait months! So sorry Vegan Freaks, that's a strike. You're great when you come out, but you don't come out enough. No disrespect to Vegan Freak, but Animal Voices is the most insightful, most inspiring, most compelling animal rights show out there. The interviews are fascinating and I sit on the edge of my seat during EVERY show. The shows make me laugh, they fill me with inspiration, with hope, with passion and also with sadness and disgust. I think it's very important to hear about all the issues discussed on Animal Voices. Normally, I block my ears & eyes from the atrocities that happen in the world. I'm already vegan, I'm not part of the horrible and cruel procedures associated with animal corporations (whether they be meat production, circuses, bear bile farms, bull fights, seal hunts etc). However on Animal Voices, I feel like there is an inspiring story for every horror story. The crew bring light on the cruelty, and they investigate all aspects of what is going on in the industry they are discussing, however I feel like they also put a huge emphasis on the good that is being done. The people that are interviewed are all people that are devoting their lives to animal causes. No matter how sad the show is, I always have a overwhelming sense of hope and feel completely inspired after every program. Thank you Lauren, Karol, Neil & CIUT for putting on an incredible and important radio program. If you have no idea what I'm talking about... head to www.animalvoices.ca

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pleasurable Kingdom

I'm in the middle of reading Pleasurable Kingdom by Jonathan Balcombe. It is such a refreshingly positive book about the joy and pleasure that animals feel, with so many inspiring little anecdotes. The following, is particularly inspiring because it is about a creature that many people do not hesitate to refer to as dumb or brainless. The timing is great too! Here is a lovely little quote from the book, just before the US Thanksgiving.

"When Joe Hutto, a turkey hunter, lived for a year among a flock of wild turkeys in Florida, he was moved to describe them as his superiors - more alert, sensitive and aware, and vastly more conscious than himself. Hutto concluded that the birds are in love with being alive."

Speaking of US Thanksgiving, check out the Celebration for the Turkeys put on by Farm Sanctuary. Here's the link: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/farm/calendar/celebrations/index.html