I’m Poppy and I am the writer of Bunny Kitchen. I am honoured to be sharing with you today on this stunning platform hosted by such a wonderful writer and vegan food extraordinaire, Angela.
What does it mean to be a vegan? Veganism has become more mainstream and fashionable in recent times with people finding interest in plant based diets for health improvements and for weight loss. The celebrity hype has heightened the trend with names such as Mike Tyson joining the vegan train for weight loss and Kevin Eubanks for health. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the likes of Russell Brand, Tobey Maguire and Ellen DeGeneres who have embraced the ethics of veganism. Yet, probably the biggest celebrity vegan story of the past year was Jay-Z and Beyonce’s venture into a vegan challenge which saw Beyonce strutting into vegan restaurants wearing dead animals.
So this begs the question, is the essence of veganism as it was intended being lost amongst all this celebrity publicity?
When I read the commentaries on Beyonce’s infamous vegan eatery fashion choices, the most prominent conclusion I find is that, there’s no surprise, she is not vegan, simply eating animal product free for 22 days.
Now that’s great, anyone who doesn’t consume animal products or who reduces their consumption is making a huge difference. But that alone does not make a person vegan. There is no such thing as a non-ethical vegan, we can see this from the Vegan Society’s definition;
“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
This means, that as far as possible, to call ourselves vegans, we must be aware of and avoid all kinds of animal exploitation and cruelty. What is often overlooked is the indirect suffering imposed upon animals.
Most of us think of the cows and pigs and other food stock species; many of us consider animal exploitations in zoos, circuses and the like; but it appears much fewer of us consider the wildlife that suffer as a result of farming industries both for animal products and the crops that they and we eat. Some even eat animal products such as honey and still call themselves vegans.
So, to highlight the plight of wildlife, here’s a little insight into the suffering of otters in Britain.
The otter has rapidly declined in Britain (50% decrease from historical numbers) as a result of agricultural chemicals used for sheep dips and to treat wool and as an insecticide. The chemicals accumulated in the food chain affecting carnivorous predators such as the otter and poisoned the waters in which they lived. They would die a slow and painful death as a result of direct poisoning, perhaps leaving behind orphans (only the mother cares for the pups) who then die from inexperience and a need to suckle for 6 months, or they starve from lack of food due to poisoned waters and thus lack of fish.
Like many species’, their habitats were destroyed for intensive farming systems and to build infrastructure. A range of conservation efforts such as captive breeding and reintroduction programmes has seen numbers of Eurasian otters increase in Britain, but for how long? Some argue that there is a natural recovery beyond the aid of conservationists, but even if this is the case, the issues that caused the crash are still very present, with cases of otter poisoning still upon us. There are even intentional poisonings by recreational fisherman who selfishly want the otters primary food source for themselves. So how long until we see our wonderful yet fragile otter population disappear again, and perhaps this time for good?
As vegans and just as humans, we need to be aware of the species’ we share our space with, both our immediate surroundings and our world, for we all have a part to play and a right and reason to be here.
I’d like to stay
I am an otter and I like to play
I live around waters and I’d like to stay
But a few years ago the humans made us go away
The chemicals in the water
The chemicals in our food
All for greed, they killed my daughter;
They banned the toxins, but then added more
They want us to be abundant, but what for?
They wrecked our homes, then wondered why we were no more;
Now we are coming back
And we’d like to stay
But the humans just keep pushing us away
You don’t need those chemicals
People were fine before
As were we, when we too had a world to explore.
Be kind, think beyond the obvious, our actions affect a whole range of species, not just the cows and chickens we oppose to slaughter, but the wildlife who receive the indirect effects. The plants, the bees, the beetles, the butterflies, all make up our ecosystems to sustain life.
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