Suggested resources for animal activism & advocacy in the ACT
This list was put together for those who attended the Vegan ACT Practical Advocacy Workshop but are applicable to everyone wanting to be a voice for the animals. Our aim in presenting the workshop, was to give people the tools to become a more confident advocate for the animals. By exploring ideas pertinent to animal activism and delving into the wide world of vegan outreach methods, we hope attendees feel more equipped to take on the types of advocacy that appeal to you. Remember, local organisations always love volunteers and new ideas, so never be afraid to reach out & gain some great experiences with like-minded people.
For whatever type of advocacy or activism you’ve got in mind, there’s nothing quite so educational as having a go! So, either get out there and give it a shot or get in touch with one of your local organisations for
guidance or help (especially if it’s a little more complex).
- Vegan ACT veganact.org.au (This website)
- Animal Liberation ACT al-act.org.au
- Animal Defender’s Office ado.org.au
- Living Green Festival lgf.org.au
- A Poultry Place facebook.com/apoultryplace/
- Little Oak Sanctuary littleoaksanctuary.org
- ICAS criticalanimalstudies.org
- Animal Activists Forum activistsforum.com
- Animal Activism Collective facebook.com/AnimalACTivismCollective
- Medical Advances Without Animals mawa-trust.org.au
- Canberra Vegan Meetup meetup.com/en-AU/Canberra-Veg-Events
- Vegan Advocacy by Casey Taft: Taft is a psychologist and has utilised his knowledge applying it to advocacy. Easy to read with real life scenarios.
- The Sexual Politics of Meat by.Carol Adams: ‘The Sexual Politics of Meat shows how a process of objectification, fragmentation, and consumption enables the oppression of animals so that animals are rendered being-less through technology, language, and cultural representation.’
- Aftershock by Pattrice Jones: An invaluable book. ‘Aftershock explores the culture of trauma that people have created through our violent exploitation of the Earth, other animals, and one another’
- Animals and Ethics by Angus Taylor: ‘Can animals be regarded as part of the moral community? To what extent, if at all, do they have moral rights? Are we wrong to eat them, hunt them, or use them for scientific research? Can animal liberation be squared with the environmental movement? Taylor traces the background of these debates from Aristotle to Darwin and sets out the views of numerous contemporary philosophers’
- Change of Heart by Nick Cooney
- Veganomics by Nick Cooney
- Empty Cages by Tom Regan
- Striking At the Roots by Mark Hawthorne
- But You Kill Ants by John Waddell
- The Life Long Activist by Hillary Rettig
- Strategic Action for Animals by Melanie Joy
Many books on vegan activism can be found online, at Harry Hartog Woden & can be borrowed from Jen at jenmeister.smugmug.com/Public/Library
- alv.org.au (Animal Liberation Victoria)
- Lucent aussiepigs.com/lucent
- A Peaceable Kingdom peaceablekingdomfilm.org
- Cowspiracy cowspiracy.com
- The Ghosts In Our Machine theghostsinourmachine.com
- Speciesism speciesismthemovie.com
Stay in touch!
‘Motherhood destroyed by profit’, a letter to the Editor of the Goulburn Post:
AS we celebrate Mother’s Day, let’s pause for a moment to think about the millions of mothers worldwide who will not only not be honoured, but who routinely have their motherhood destroyed for profit.
If you get Mum her breakfast in bed with bacon and eggs, give a thought to the young pig who was slaughtered to produce the bacon. He or she was taken from their mother at an early age, causing stress to them both.
The mother spent much of her pregnancy in a concrete and metal indoor stall with barely room to move. She would have undergone about four artificial inseminations and pregnancies over two years until her yield of piglets dropped below the required number and she was slaughtered.
Then think about the hens who have laid the eggs. Not only did they never see their mothers, but their own innate “mother hen” behaviour was thwarted, their eggs being taken away immediately: no chance to nest, let alone raise a clutch of chicks.
The milk in Mum’s cup of tea or coffee comes from a cow who had her calf removed a matter of hours after birth so that we could suck the milk from her for our own use. She has been artificially inseminated annually, involving a human arm being inserted into her, for a handful of years before the exhaustion caused by constant lactation and pregnancy means she will have no more value other than to be slaughtered for hamburger meat.
These farmed mothers have similar maternal instincts to our own mums, but instead of respecting them, we trample on them, all for foods we can do very well without.
Mike O’Shaughnessy, Spence, ACT.
Mercy for Animals Video: Here’s to all mothers!
Canberra’s not-for-profit food co-op. Has lots of organic and sustainable Vegan ingredients and foods (such as Funky Pies in the frozen section and Sprout and Kernel Vegan Cheese). They also have a cafe which sells organic, fair-trade coffee and cakes. Bring your own containers and weigh them before you fill them up with goodies (so the weight of the container can be subtracted at the checkout).
Review by Gareth Ballard – 28 January 2016
I went to the Food Co – op Shop (formerley the ANU Food Co-op) to get lunch for the first time a while ago. They are a non profit Co – op with a café. They have a wide range of unpackaged organic foods to choose from and a select range of packaged foods (frozen and unfrozen) and drinks (which are all discounted if you become a member, check out the link below for more info) Some of the items of most interest to a vegan would be the range of cheeses, including some by Sprout and Kernel as well as yoghurts etc. The setting is quite casual in a really good way. The café also does breakfast from 8 until 11:30 in the morning and at the moment the vegan options are homemade porrige and museli (with a gluten free option) served with a selection of non-dairy milks. They do lunch from 12 till 2 in the arvo. They will serve one type of meal each lunch (which is ALWAYS vegan) and on Wednesdays and Fridays when they have Peter doing the cooking an option of spicy and not spicy. On the day that I went there was a 2 potato with black lentil stew served with rice. It was a bit like a chilli. Really great simple flavours with that nourishing comfort food factor. I loved it and was struggling to finish the bowl due to how hearty it was. I had a chat with the cook and he said that they (obviously when you think about it) just grab ingredients from the shelves that need to be used in the next few days, so the main ingredients were seasonal organic food. I really like a bit of spice and ordered the spicy which was at the limit for my tastes and the cook said that he usually puts a bit more spice in! There is some chilli powder to add to the non spicy if you’d prefer to choose exactly how spicy it gets, which I’m definitely doing next time. They can also do a funky pie for you (If you haven’t had one STOP right now and go get one!), and have a selection of treats from Veganarchy and Raw Capers. The lunches cost $5 for Food Co – op members / students and $7 for everyone else, which, with filling food that tastes as good as this, is damn hard value to beat. I’ll certainly be returning soon, I’ll just have to remember to have a small breakfast to leave as much room as possible!
The Food Co-op Shop is located at 3 Kingsley Street on the ground floor of the Lena Karmel Unilodge building. Their website is http://foodco-opshop.com.au/ which is really worth checking out for all their events and the information on becoming a member (which has loads of benefits!)
Sonja Barfoed: Community-based, non-profit cooperative with bring-your-own-container options. Also sweets, vegan cheeses, unusual vegetables and fruit. Similar to As Nature Intended and Mountain Creek in that there’s an in-store café (the lunches are great value and generally vegan). It has been around for ages, I don’t remember when it was in the Union building, but before the current bricks-and-mortar, it was in a transportable building near the Law Courts, and prior to that, a different transportable near the current site. Parking: There is a loading zone out the front, but it’s more polite & good karma to park in the proper spots. There is a useful map on the Co-op’s website. Closest gallery: Drill Hall Gallery
Hi guys I know I’m preaching to the converted but I thought some of your friends on the cusp of turning vegan may enjoy following our journey.
We have dabbled before with being vegan for short periods of time and feel the time is right to encompass the lifestyle wholeheartedly. We will be posting lots of interesting articles and of course what we learn along the way.
We will be holding monthly vegan banquets at my house in Goulburn and would love you guys to come. I’ll keep you posted on dates. Below is a link following our journey to become full vegans many thanks :).
Written by Karen Bevis, Kindred Spirits House Sit or Swap
We are looking for the support of the veg*n community to help get this project up and running. There will be a function on the website to be able to specify ‘vegan only’. We are vegans ourselves, and very keen to support the vegan community.
Kindred Spirits House Sit or Swap is launching in mid-December 2015. This international web-based service will be the first house sit or house swap website specifically for vegans and vegetarians.Website owners, Karen and Chris, are long-term vegans based in Tasmania, who understand how important it is for ethical vegans and vegetarians to know that their companion animals are well cared for while they are away from home, and that their kitchen is not used to prepare non-vegetarian foods.“We have always struggled to find other vegans or vegetarians to mind our home and our precious companions while we are away” said Karen, “so we have had less holidays as a family than we would like to. We need to trust that who stays in our home shares our ethics, and will provide good care for our small menagerie of rescued non-humans. We have created this service as we know this is an issue for others in a similar situation.”Site users will be able to browse listings of house sitters, listings of properties requiring a house sitter, and properties available for house swaps. Once site users register and become a member, they will be able create their own listings and make contact with other members to arrange house sits or swaps. Registration for a 12 month membership will be free for a time while the number of listings on the site builds and an active community of like-minded people is created.You can sign up for the E-News now at www.kindredspiritshouse.com. Start planning that holiday!
About House Sitting and House SwappingHouse swapping is a great way to explore your own country or the world! Accommodation is free, giving you spare cash to do extra activities on your holiday, and you can self cater with all the comforts of home, in a kitchen where no animals have been cooked and there are no nasty smells or surprises in the fridge! You can swap notes with your house swap partner on where to find great vego eats in the local area.House sitting is a fantastic way to save money on accommodation while travelling, or while saving money to buy your own home. House sitters provide their services for free, looking after a home while the owner is away, providing care, walks and cuddles for any non-human residents too.Having a house sitter in your home provides peace of mind while you take a well-earned break, and having your companions cared for at home is much less stress for them than using a kennel or a cattery – and it is free too!
Written in December 2015
At a time of year when much is spoken about good will to all, we must surely spare a thought for turkeys.
I was prompted to create this post when I had the very good fortune to come across this heart-warming podcast from Big Fat Vegan Radio in which several people are asked to tell a story celebrating the lives of the Turkeys closest to them. It is such a delight to hear about happy, healthy turkeys living life to the full. As shown in this Video from Farm Sanctuary:
For those that don’t know or need a simple way of showing the heart-wrenching reality that most of our turkey friends face we can’t go past this recent offering from the amazing Bite Size Vegan:
And no! It doesn’t just “happen like that in other countries” it happens right here in Australia too! Check out this highly informative website and activist materials by Canberran Vegan and Animal Activist, Lara Drew for Animal Liberation ACT:
Here is Lara being interviewed about the launch of the campaign by Leigh-Chantelle of Viva La Vegan.com in 2011.
Thank goodness for Bede Carmody and his A Poultry Place sanctuary! You can read his latest newsletter here (which includes bank details for very welcome donations). You can also keep up with the latest from the sanctuary by liking the fantastic facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/apoultryplace
As we have seen and heard, it is clear that turkeys just want to have fun so let’s end with this wonderful Christmas poem dedicated to our fine feathered friends. Merry Christmas EVERYONE!
Talking Turkeys!! By Benjamin Zephaniah
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos turkeys jus wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, an turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don’t eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate an not on yu plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I’m on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey say ‘Benj man, eh, I wanna enjoy it,
But dose humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.
Turkeys jus wanna play reggae
Turkeys jus wanna hip-hop
Havey you ever seen a nice young turkey saying,
‘I cannot wait for de chop’?
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.
I once knew a turkey His name was Turkey
He said ‘Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?’
I said, ‘I am not too sure Turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy and waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash.’
So, be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey’ll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends ‘FOR LIFE’.
And just one more video :). This 2015 Farm Sanctuary Thanksgiving feast for Turkeys!
When I heard about the UC Vision Song Contest, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if ‘Someone’ could raise awareness and plant seeds of compassion?’ This is what I came up with: https://youtu.be/SV24bBRpjxc Hope you like it! (literally and on youtube 😀 ). See below the video for the lyrics and PAQ.
Lyrics to ‘Someone’ by Rowena:
There’s someone close to you
All curled up and sleeping.
When they pass away,
There will be so much weeping.
You’d do anything to make sure they were never harmed
While billions so like them are killed, tested on and farmed.
Who decided who could live and who would die?
Someone to adore or just someone to deny?
There’s someone in this fridge,
There’s someone in that freezer
And there’re countless other selves
Who never made it to the shelves.
Each someone who wanted a long and happy life
All hope of that dashed by an awful bloodied knife.
Who decided who to breed and when they’d die?
There’s simply no excuse for making fellow creatures cry.
There’s something in those products
Meant for someone’s stolen baby.
When our mother’s milk dried up
Surely not just maybe
It was time to grow up and let nature take its course
For we can find all our food from cruelty-free source.
Who decided how they’d live and how they’d die?
Let’s stop the industries from selling us their lies.
There’s just enough water and plants grown
To sustain our kind directly
Yet, while our population grows,
It’s fed to livestock on death row.
Those who say “I don’t care ’cause people come first!”
Are in fact creating human hunger and thirst.
Who decided who to feed and why they’d die?
We need to right the wrongs if we’re to hold our heads up high.
Who’s deciding who will live and who will die?
It’s up to you and me in what we do and what we buy.
It’s up to you and me in what we do and what we buy.
PAQ – Potentially Asked Questions
- Where can I read more about the issues raised? All over the web! but this is my favourite booklet: http://whyveg.com/ref/
- What recent films can I watch to find out more? There is Lucent (2014) for the animals, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014) for the environment, and Forks Over Knives (2011) for health.
- What’s your hair doing? It’s like me. It does its own thing :). I did do another take where my hair was much more cooperative but this one sounded slightly better. Music wins over vanity :).
- Why did you make this video? For the animals. The UC Vision Song Contest required a video clearly showing the performer. So here it is :).
Just in time for healthy new year’s resolutions! Canberra has some wonderful (but not always easy to find/know about) health food shops and places to bulk-buy or bring your own containers. Make sure you check they’ve definitely re-opened after the holidays!
I have a theory about the proximity of health food shops and art galleries – a good opportunity to improve your entire health and outlook. Read more…
by Chelsea J Cotter
This is so horrible, barbaric and unfair! These Canberran magpies have become accustomed to being fed by humans and are now being killed for it. They and the babies left behind in nests do not deserve this.
Please help send the message that Australians think this ‘cull’ is NOT okay. Send an email to both The Canberra Times and Territory and Municipal Services at:
By Paul Maguire
On sale now at Harry Hartog Books, Westfield, Woden and Book Passion, Belconnen Markets, Belconnen.
I’ve just had self-published Vegan Ninja – a cookbook of confronting ecological proportions and personal meaning, through Echo Press, Griffith, ACT. The first half is the reasoning behind being vegan and the second has almost 90 recipes. A percentage of every copy sold will go directly to a friend of mine Yudav Gurung, of the Himalayan Light Foundation, in Kathmandu. He has been doing earthquake relief work since the day after a devastating earthquake killed more than 8000 Nepalese in April this year. My wife, Julie, daughter, Eve, and I met Yudav four years ago when he, and his organisation, helped us install a solar lighting system in a remote Nepalese medical centre. We live in the Hunter Valley (one of Australia’s biggest black coal districts) and I’m a long-time member of the Queensland Vegan Society. Thank you.
Patrick Duthie is a local vegan artist, designer and author who prides himself on quality work and taking the time to create art with passion and integrity. He works in many different and creative mediums like painting, drawing, digital art and design, and large-scale artworks such as murals and banners.
Most recently he has designed logos and t-shirt designs for many ACT organisations and sanctuaries such as the Animal Defenders Office (ADO), Little Oak Sanctuary, Signal Hill Sanctuary, Aussie Farms and of course Vegan ACT.
In 2014, Patrick released his first book; a children’s book called ‘Living with Monsters’, both written and illustrated by himself. This book is now available online and in store at Harry Hartog Bookshop in Woden.
He’s also done many more personal assignments including pet portraits and tattoo designs, and is more than happy for anyone to approach him with a request or idea of their own. Should you be interested in a quote, go ahead and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
To see more of his work visit his website www.patrickduthie.com or follow/like him on Twitter (@patrickduthie), Facebook (Patrick Duthie Art) or Instragram (@p_duthie) for regular updates on his current projects.
Message from Chenoa Wilson, Canberran Vegan
My partner and I are currently travelling through the world and often get the comment “Oh, but it must be so hard travelling as a Vegan…” Actually we’ve been eating like a king and queen here in South America and I was inspired to create a group called What Travelling Vegans Eat, combining two of my loves; good Vegan food and travelling! I thought it could be a good space for those of us travelling to share our experiences and be inspired as well!
If you’re interested at all or know someone who would, feel free to join and share too!
Tip-off from Tara Ward, Vegan ACT Member
We’ve recently discovered that both the Indian food outlets in the two Canberra Centre food courts in Civic use dairy in ALL of their vegetarian curries and dahl. The outlets are called ‘Touch of India’ (and may have once been ‘Jewel of India’?). We noticed that the outlet up near Dendy used to say on its menu board that no animal fats were used in its cooking, but the board has now changed and it no longer contains this statement.
Written by Rowena (Tipped-off by Tina)
This 40 minute report (aired on Sunday, 16 November) is well worth the listen. Without overtly stating it, it goes to show how important it is that footage comes to light so things are not hidden from view with everything going unchecked. It is pivotal that people know what is going on. Thank goodness for films like Lucent bringing the dark into the light!
Click here to read about the Canberra screening of Lucent.
Written by Rachael Nielsen
So, I’m telling friends I’m making the transition as I research scrambled tofu. I’ve watched Earthlings, I’ve read Eating Animals, I have vegan pals, I’ve been a vegetarian for long enough to prove I’m committed. I believe in vegan values and I want the exploitation of animals to end. I’m planning to find cheese replacements at the health food stores and phase all animal products out, but two months pass and I’m still ‘making the transition.’ So I had to ask myself ‘why am I struggling?” I did eventually identify some reasons I am having trouble, and which perhaps other new vegans are distressed about as well.
Actually Buy Groceries
Don’t be like me and fail to buy groceries for yourself, so that you’re left with what your family or housemates have left in the fridge. Don’t feel bad, just buy plenty of food and start incorporating alternatives into your pantry so you have vegan options, especially when you need something at 3am.
Going vegan requires us to give up the privileged idea that humans are more entitled to life and freedom, and thus anything non-human is OK to exploit. Giving up eggs and dairy (etc.) requires not only going through an ideological process, but research and a very good relationship with health food stores and food markets. Mainstream supermarkets sell things like soy, almond, quinoa, oat and rice milk and a variety of helpful alternative foods.
The Belconnen and Fyshwick Farmers Markets should be regularly visited. Also bond with health food and organic stores. One of my favourite organic places is As Nature Intended at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets. I also love Mountain Creek Wholefoods at the Griffith shops. They both sell a bunch of essential products that are going to be hard to find elsewhere. Also, a number of organic, heath and alternative food stores (as well as some Chemists) often stock cruelty free beauty products, like Sukin.
Read the Wise Words of Others
Absolutely buy vegan cookbooks. You will not think up everything that is brilliant to cook and you will need the wisdom of those that have gone before you and experimented until they found the perfect replication of cheese sauce. These cooks will introduce you to making cheese from cashews, and how to use tahini. Most of us haven’t been eating like this before, so the tips and products of the ’20 year vegans’, are beyond useful. Two books I love are the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon and Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
There are also apps for vegan recipes and for finding vegan restaurants, as well as a plethora of youtube channels that will teach you how to make a whole range of food, including icecream! I like the Raw. Vegan. Not Gross series on the Tastemade channel. I’m not into eating raw all of the time, but what Laura makes it still suitable for vegans of any style and she’s bloody ingenious.
For some unfathomable reason there is a burgeoning vegan community on Instagram. Search the hashtags and you will find an immense amount of vegan recipes, which often link back to recipe blogs. I follow many vegan-orientated Instagram feeds and get plenty of ideas for meals. Instagram was what originally got me interested in being a vegan; I saw the food, creativity and passion of friends and strangers which inspired me to buy Coyo (coconut yogurt) and soy icecream. I didn’t know these products existed, but when I found out, I was thrilled.
Keep At It
Not all of us are going to become straight edge vegans in a weekend. If you are vegetarian, then you can start by replacing one product at at time. Maybe slowly being less dependent on eggs is easiest for you? My favourite egg replacement is scrambled tofu. Start by replacing cows milk with a non-dairy milk you enjoy. When you order a coffee, get it with soy milk. Once you get into the habit and get used to the taste, start thinking about what dairy products are in desserts or the usual food you eat. Can you make a variation on a cream cheese bagel yourself? What vegan (friendly) cafes are around that could provide you with a sandwich similar? Websites like Vegan Easy and WhyVeg are Australian and list a lot of vegan replacements available (with photos of the products!) and information on where you can get them.
Get a Vegan Community
Another challenge of going vegan is dealing with the responses of meat eaters. When telling people about my choice, I often got the response “that’s cool that you are vegan” squashed into the back of “I couldn’t live without my meat though.” This kind of answer is a way of not interacting with what someone is saying and the (threatening) idea they are presenting. Nevertheless, it possible for your meat-eating friends and family to support and respect your beliefs once they move past defensive reactions. But regardless of how supportive those around you are, joining vegan meet-up groups, picnics and other social events are essential for feeling understood and supported, and gaining wisdom. People who share your beliefs are going to sympathise with your particular concerns and will likely be able to suggest a product, book or way of seeing things that will help.
If you find yourself despondent from the constant, small digs; the frequent sounds of “I don’t know why anyone would want to be vegan” and “I think eating meat is part of being human” then I suggest going to a cafe with vegan options (Essen, The Front, Roasters, Sweet Bones, My Rainbow Dreams, Satis) and taking out Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer for the first or third time. Maybe read one of the books I’ve started on, The Emotional Lives of Animals by Marc Berkoff. It’s important for morale to fill yourself up with positive influences. I not only suggest going to fresh food markets, health food stores and vegan meet-up groups because it will help with maintaining eating vegan, but because it puts you in close contact with people who can support you.
I’m sure there will be more challenges to come. Like, for instance I’m still not certain if I need to carry those juice box-sized soy milks with me everywhere, so when I go to friends’ houses I can have tea. But hopefully I have solved some of the challenges of going vegan.
Connect with me:
The Ghosts In Our Machine, directed by Liz Marshall, follows photographer and animal rights campaigner Jo-Anne McArthur as she carries out her life purpose – to tell the stories of non-human animals used and abused by humans.
Animal activists are often viewed by society as militant and unreasonable individuals void of the ability to rationalise why we ‘need’ to use non-human animals. This film features Jo-Anne as an exemplar of what it truly means to be an animal activist, breaking this societal view. Rather than painting her as a legendary hero of the animal rights battle, Marshall shows her as distinctly human, capturing not only her passion and deep love of animals but also her own struggles and grief. Jo-Anne reveals she suffers from PTSD and regular nightmares, haunted by what she has seen. Despite this, she continues to document the lives of non-human animals. This raw portrayal allows the viewer to empathise and to understand Jo-Anne as both an activist and a fellow human being.
The film explores the systemic and inherent cruelty in using non-human animals for human purposes – from laboratory animals to animals kept in fur farms and the animals humans determine are ‘okay’ to eat.
While some footage is disturbing, this is juxtaposed with stories of hope and joy, showing non-human animals that have been liberated, ensuring the viewer does not become overwhelmed by the enormity of animal suffering.
Cinematically this film is beautiful. Marshall incorporates Jo-Anne’s photography seamlessly into the film. Jo-Anne is renowned for her ability to capture the soul of the non-human animal through photography, and Marshall is able to retain this in the film. The soundtrack, performed by Radiohead, is stirring.
As an animal activist, I found the film made me to want to do more for animals. I walked away feeling inspired by Jo-Anne’s story and a desire to continue to fight the very long hard fight for animal liberation.
Written by Jacky Sutton, Vegan ACT
The Ghosts in Our Machine is a beautiful, poignant anthem to lost souls – ours and the non-human animals brutalised by global capitalism and our rush to consume without empathy or conscience. It was filmed by Jo-Anne McArthur, a Canadian photographer, who travels the world to bear witness to the callous sadism of humanity in its reduction of living beings to fur coats, body parts and play things. But unlike the underground footage exposing the horrific brutality of factory farms and abattoirs this film is easy on the eye. Relatively speaking.
Instead of shocking audiences into awareness – and hence, according to some schools of deterministic behaviourism – action, Jo-Anne has decided to focus on the humanity within us all, human and non-human, to reach out across language and categories to touch the heart of our common sentience. Her pictures of terrified foxes and mink in cages contain no violent scenes of blood and gore. The gruesome fate of these living beings is latent, banal, to use Hannah Arendt’s term, and in the mind of the beholder. We know what is in store and, like her, can do nothing.
The footage of the walking dead are interspersed with bucolic scenes from the Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York, where Jo-Anne goes to decompress from the front lines. We watch as pigs and cows and chickens and goats – as well as animals we have classified as “pets” – gambol and frolic in a bucolic Disneyland of living beings just doing their thing. The contrast to the cowed and brutalized is implicit, a ghostly palimpsest of our inhumanity to the Other.
Sitting in the Dendy Cinema in Canberra City Centre on July 20 it was hard to believe that I was watching a film about animal rights. And that the cinema, on a bright sunny Sunday, while not packed had a respectable showing. Could it be that the tide is finally turning? And that we can finally acknowledge our responsibility to protect the precious, fragile world over which, like it or not, we rule, from its worst enemy – ourselves?
I hope so.
Written by Jacky Sutton
Welcome to Veggie Bytes, addressing questions that vegans are often asked. Some of these questions are made in good faith. “Milk is good for you, so why are you against it?” There are two issues here: human health and animal welfare.
Humans are the only species on the planet that regularly drink the milk of other mammals beyond infanthood. Cow milk, like human milk or camel milk or cat milk or possum milk or any other milk produced by a mammal mother for her mammal baby, has evolved to provide species-specific nutrients to very young beings.
Polar bear milk makes baby polar bears really fat in about two weeks because polar bears live in cold places where a thin cub would die. Gazelle milk enables baby gazelles to develop the capacity to run really fast in a couple of hours – while cheetah milk enables cheetah cubs to run even faster in about six months, thus giving baby gazelles the chance to develop other capacities to ward off their predators and stay alive.
Cows’ milk is rich in lactose, a sugar that is digested in the intestinal tract of, er, cows. Humans do not have the ability to digest lactose, and often suffer from bowel cramping, diarrhoea, bloating, eczema, vomiting and inflamed mucous membranes when they drink cows’ milk. There is a healthy pharmaceutical industry response to this in the form of antacids, anti-diarrheals, laxatives, skin lotions and other responses to the physiological rejection of a non-food food.
This of course is not part of the dairy industry advertisements, which feature healthy children developing strong bones and teeth from a diet rich in milk, cream and sugary ice-cream. This “Western diet” has contributed to a global crisis of obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer – to which the pharmaceutical industry has a healthy response in the forms of diet formula, chemical alternatives to food and expensive calcium supplements.
Lactose intolerance is one of the most commonly reported food allergies globally. Ironically,
pasteurisation – boiling milk at very high temperature to destroy TB bacteria – also makes milk harder for humans to digest.
One of the many myths about cows’ milk is that it is good for human bones and therefore essential for growing children and women. This is not true – cow’s milk contains excess quantities of methionine, an amino acid found in mammals that helps in digestion by dissolving food in an acid bath. The acidity of the cows’ milk methionine is fine for calves but too acidic for humans. Cows digest their food by regurgitating it and swilling it in strong acid; humans do not. When humans drink cows’ milk their bodies compensate for the high proportion of methionine by leaching calcium from the skeleton, thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Another thing to think about while reaching for your icecream or daily glass of milk is the fact that cows are fed a toxic diet of hormones, mainly oestrogen, to make them produce more milk. They are also almost always pregnant while being milked, adding to the hormone-load which has been linked to early onset puberty in human children and to hormone-dependent cancers such as testicular, prostate and breast.
Like humans, cows produce milk when there is a sufficient hormone load to indicate pregnancy. But milk cows are not always pregnant when they lactate; instead they are injected with excessive quantities of oestrogen (which gets passed on to humans through the milk). However the majority are artificially inseminated on a regular basis so that their natural hormones kick in as well as the artificial ones.
Cows, like humans, bear live babies so their pregnancy is also a period of hormonal changes aimed at producing a bond between mother and child. Like women, cows experience mood changes and are hard-wired to learn to love their baby before it is born. Unlike women, cows are never allowed to.