News – June 2009
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Table of Contents
- Belgian City Goes Once A Week Veg
- October and November Events Being Planned
- Government Regulator Backs Animal Cruelty Advertisement
- Organising Vegetarian ‘Meetups’
- Review of ‘The Face on Your Plate’
- Revamped Website and Other News from Carol Adams
- New Book for Kids – ‘That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals’
- Welcome to Organisations That Have Recently Registered with IVU
- Upcoming Events
- Other Online Sources of Veg News
- Please Send News to IVU Online News
Belgian City Goes Once A Week Veg
The damage done by meat calls louder and louder for a response, and more people the world over are responding. A great example is the city of Ghent, Belgium. From May, government staff and elected officials will go veg once a week and from Sep, schools will follow suit. The goal is to protect the environment and to guard against obesity. news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8046970.stm
Here’s a PowerPoint file on the idea presented at the 2008 IVU World Vegetarian Congress by Tobias Leenaert of Ethical Vegetarian Alternative (EVA), Belgium’s biggest vegetarian organisation:
And, here’s an FAQ by EVA: www.vegetarisme.be/ghent
October and November Events Being Planned
Many vegetarian organisations hold events throughout the year, but the October/November period is especially brimming with efforts to educate the public about why and how to go veg. Below is one example. For more, visit
On 1 November (World Vegan Day), a vegan event is planned to mark the opening of STHITAprajna (Vegan Life Centre) An International Vegan Centre for Yoga, Meditation, Relaxation and Rejuvenation in a 3 acre plot located near Byndoor, close to the Western Coast of South India in the state of Karnataka.
In today’s world, life is full of pulls and pressures causing enormous pain making people immune to the problems and sufferings of the fellow beings. At STHITAprajna one learns to live a life in a state of constant happiness with good health and in harmony with nature (animals and earth) using minimum resources available in the nature.
A cross section of society including some dignitaries are expected to attend this 5-day event organised by Vn. Shankar Narayan, President –Indian Vegan Society and A Councillor and Regional Coordinator (India, South & West Asia) for the International Vegetarian Union, UK.
Long distance participants have the option of going for a special 5-day package in the nearby Sai Vishram Vegetarian Beach Resort (www.saivishram.com). More details can be had from the attached file or from the website www.indianvegansociety.com or by writing to Shankar Narayan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Government Regulator Backs Animal Cruelty Advertisement
The intensive pig farming industry in the UK lodged a complaint against an advertisement by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). However, the complaint backfired when the UK’s advertising regulator, the ASA, backed CIWF’s claim that piglets feel pain just like a human would when their teeth are clipped without anaesthetic.
The advertisement appeared in the national press earlier this year, including in the magazine of food celebrity Jamie Oliver. The ad shows a picture of a pig and asks: “What noise does a piglet make when its teeth are cut off with pliers – without anaesthetic? Same as you.”
A farmer complained stating that piglets don’t get distressed if their teeth are clipped properly without anaesthetic. The ASA looked at the scientific evidence and concluded that Compassion in World Farming was truthful in stating that piglets squeal in pain when they have their teeth clipped without anaesthetic. This is because piglets’ teeth contain nerves and they feel pain as a result of tissue damage just like humans would.
Routine clipping of the teeth of young pigs is banned under EU legislation, yet it happens regularly in most standard intensive pig farms in the UK. Despite the ban, the British Pig Executive (BPEX) reported last year that 57% of pig farmers in the UK clip the teeth of all of their pigs.
View the advertisement at:www.ciwf.org.uk/....pig_cruelty_advert.aspx
Organising Vegetarian ‘Meetups’
Joe Goh is a local vegetarian activist in Singapore, where he heads the Singapore Vegetarian Meetup Group: www.meetup.com/singapore-vegetarian In this interview, Joe tells us what Meetup is, what kinds of activities Singapore Vegetarian Meetup does and his ideas for the future. The hope is that the Singapore experience will inspire others and that others may wish to share ideas with Joe and his Singapore friends.
Hi, Joe. Please begin by telling us what Meetup is. Besides vegetarian Meetup groups, are there other types of Meetups as well?
Hi! Sure. Meetup is a website where people with similar interests can find each other and meet offline, in the "real world". It’s a popular site with tens or even hundreds of different interest groups in many major cities, from more mainstream ones such as Chinese culture and running, to niche ones like Lord of The Rings groups!
Why use Meetup and not just use Facebook or other websites?
Meetup is specifically for the purpose of people interested in meeting others with similar interests, and a lot of people find out about other Meetup groups through the site. This is harder to achieve on Facebook. Using the Singapore Vegetarian Meetup Group as an example, many of our members are also members of the Singapore Adventurers and Nature Lovers Meetup group, and find out about the vegetarian group through emails that the site sends out, from the website itself, word of mouth from other meetup attendees, etc.
As Meetup is focused on getting people to meet in "real life", the tools available for organisers make it much easier for events to be held. For example, it automatically sends reminders to people who RSVP, allowing me to ask attendees questions when they RSVP, keep track of contributions, etc.
The downside is that there's a fee for using the site, but I've not faced much trouble with collecting contributions from members. A great upside is that people have more of a sense of belonging to the group, and although we may receive less RSVPs than through Facebook, a lot more enthusiastic people attend the meets. I think just the very act of getting people to register for an account for the meetup precludes people who are less enthusiastic.
Why and how do people join Singapore Vegetarian Meetup?
Singapore is a nation of food lovers; so, the most commonly heard reason for joining Singapore Vegetarian Meetup is that people have heard of our excellent track record with finding delicious vegetarian food in Singapore and want to join in the feasting. We're very popular with non-vegetarians too, and in fact, about half of our members are non-vegetarians (or, at least they were when they joined the group). I make enjoying delicious vegetarian food together the focal point, and if people find out more about vegetarianism and have a better opinion of vegetarians, I let that happen as a great side effect. This allows the non-vegetarians to feel more at home, and I guess a big draw of this group is the level of trust they feel in the group, that no one will be shoving information or values down their throats.
If you’re in Singapore, to join the group, head over to www.meetup.com/singapore-vegetarian and register for an account on meetup, and join the group. Membership is free, although I do encourage a minimum US$2 donation from everyone, to cover the Meetup fees.
Why did you choose to organise the Singapore Vegetarian Meetup Group?
I wasn't the founder of the meetup, and truth be told, I was initially reluctant to take over as the organiser when the founder decided to hand over the responsibilities to someone else, as I have a very busy work schedule. I became vegetarian a few months before the group was founded, and I felt quite isolated, as I was the only vegetarian I knew. I wanted to meet other vegetarians, and organising the meetup also has given me a great excuse to get away from work to find new places to eat and enjoy a great time out with lots of like-minded people every few weeks.
What keeps me going as the organiser though is the feeling I get that organising these meets is helping spread vegetarianism through subtle means, or at least, help dispel some of the myths and prejudices some may have towards vegetarians.
How do you measure the success of the meetup events?
Meetup allows people to rate the success of events by giving an event a rating of between 0 to 5 stars after each meetup. I'm pleased to say that the Singapore Vegetarian Meetup Group is one of the most highly-rated meetups in Singapore, and we've achieved an average rating of 4.85/5.0 (97%) as of last month.
But statistics aside, I measure the success of events not just by the numbers that turn up, but by the overall vibe and the smiles on people's faces during and after the meet. It’s quite easy to tell when a meetup is going well, as everyone will come up to you and ask when the next meet will be.
What have been two of your more successful Meetup events?
Very recently, I organised a trip to a local eatery known for their vegetarian take on a Singaporean dish called Hokkien Mee, followed by a visit to a traditional Chinese tea house. The turnout was amazing, especially considering how late I was in sending out the details because I was too busy earlier. The vibe at the tea house was infectiously cheerful, although we did break the tranquility of the location with our banter! ;-)
A few months ago, we organised a trip to the beach and flew kites, in commemoration of a Singaporean vegetarian activist and kite flyer who passed away. We've also served some vegetarian burgers, and the combination of the beautiful weather, delicious food and rediscovering the simple joy of kite flying had everyone leaving with a smile.
Why do you think they were successful?
I think it’s important to organise events not for the sole purpose of satisfying attendees, but to do it primarily to please yourself first. That way, the enthusiasm and passion comes through naturally. To deviate a little, I think it’s vital that the organiser enjoys the events that he/she organises, as it’s the only thing that will keep him/her going for the long-term.
Have you also had some not very successful events? To what do you attribute their limited success?
We had a picnic held at the same beach I mentioned above, and that was our lowest rated meetup ever. I think the main problem that day was the timing. Because we met too late, it quickly turned dark, and there were no lights where we were. Somehow, the lack of lighting contributed to everyone feeling a little less social.
Also, one member started discussing religion during the meetup, which affected some of the other attendees negatively. I've since learnt that all conversations relating to religion, politics and other sensitive topics should be gently guided away.
Do you have anything special planned for the future?
I started a new regular event 2 weeks ago called Veggie Wednesday. It’s an event designed to encourage non-vegetarians to not consume meat and seafood for one day each week. I make it a rule that attendees must not consume meat and seafood the entire day before we meet for dinner. Of course, there isn't any way I can verify this, but so far, it’s been working well enough. As usual, the food quality during the dinner-meet needs to be high, but I'm making this meetup more focused on vegetarianism. As the attendees have to make a conscious switch away from meat and seafood, they are more open to discussions about vegetarianism, and that has proven to be correct based on the experiences of the first meet.
Any advice for people who might want to start a vegetarian Meetup or to reinvigorate an existing group?
Just do it! Everything begins with that first step. It may be hard to get the group going at first, so having very consistent meetups in the beginning is essential. It brings a level of trust to people, as they'll be able to feel your dedication. Also important is to try to make the events as social as possible, and avoid having speakers, special topics, etc, except perhaps a few times each year. Let the people that attend the meetups be the centre of attention, not the organiser, or some other speaker or topic. Most importantly, you need great food to attract the non-vegetarians. The vegetarians may attend purely for the social side of things, but it’s the food that attracts the other, sometimes bigger half of the crowd.
In the beginning when there are less members, it may be important to have a few light, friendly, ice-breaking topics on hand to keep the conversations flowing. From the most obvious, like asking why the vegetarians chose to switch, to the more obscure, like what people eat for breakfast every morning. Topics unrelated to vegetarianism should not be stopped; just let people do what they want unless religion or politics is brought up.
Review of ‘The Face on Your Plate’
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is a former Professor of Sanskrit and Project Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives who turned his attention to the emotional lives of animals around 15 years ago. Since that time he has written several popular books on the subject, including When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie About Love, The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats, and The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, the last of which described the emotional lives of farmed animals and led to the author becoming a vegan. (Details of these and other publications can be found on the author’s website www.jeffreymasson.com.)
The Face on Your Plate -WW Norton, 271pp, pbk - presents the case for veganism. Each of the book's five chapters, as well as the lengthy introduction, can be viewed as separate essays. As might be expected, The Face on Your Plate draws heavily on the author's experiences researching and writing his previous books, especially in the second and fourth chapters which deal, respectively, with the conditions under which farm animals are reared and the reasons why most people implicitly deny the realities of animal farming through their choice of diet. The other three chapters present the environmental case for veganism, "the fishy business of aquaculture", and, finally, a discussion of the consequences for health of a plant-based diet and the author's own experience of life as a vegan. This last chapter is rather self-indulgent (do we really need to know what the author eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner?) and, with its many references to US grocery chains and exotic foods not generally found in the UK will be of limited use to British readers. Some of the arguments presented here are unconvincing, and insufficient evidence is presented in support of the extravagant claim that "from a purely scientific and nutritional point of view ... there is no healthier diet than a vegan one".
The author is on much firmer ground in other sections of the book where he appeals to the reader’s compassion rather than their self-interest. The first three chapters in particular contain plenty of valuable material and cogent arguments for veganism that will be of benefit to both the converted and the unconverted. The author’s informal, anecdotal style will appeal to many readers. He is astonishingly well read, as shown by the extensive recommended reading list, and some telling quotations are presented at the beginning of each chapter.
Masson’s arguments are unashamedly emotional. He wants the reader to empathise with farmed animals, to recognise the cruelties and deprivations inflicted upon them, to imagine themselves in their predicament, and ultimately to stop eating meat and other animal products – in short, to become a vegan. In answer to the charge that vegans care more about animals than they do about people, he asserts: “There is nothing more important to think about than the heart of empathy, which in the final analysis is nothing other than the ability to love. Becoming a vegan is simply one manifestation of that love.” Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, quoted at the beginning of chapter four, Masson likens the adoption of a vegan diet to "a change of perception akin to a religious conversion". Though not the most cohesive argument for veganism, The Face on Your Plate has the potential to create many more converts.
Paul Appleby, May 2009
Revamped Website and Other News from Carol Adams
Carol Adams, noted vegetarian author (including ‘How to Eat Like a Vegetarian Even if You Never Want to Be One’) and IVU supporter, sends news of a newly redesigned website - www.caroljadams.com – and an upcoming book – ‘The Sexual Politics of Meat (20th anniversary edition)’, coming November 2009. Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Also, Carol is inviting people for whom The Sexual Politics of Meat was an important book to send her videos: www.caroljadams.com/contact.html
Plus, you can join Carol on Facebook at www.facebook.com/.../carol,adams... and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/_caroljadams
New Book for Kids – ‘That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals’
Here’s the blurb from the book’s website www.wedonteatanimals.com
‘That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals’ takes a candid, compassionate look at the plight of animals on factory farms, using gorgeous artwork and lively text to introduce vegetarianism and veganism to early readers.
An endearing cast of animals is shown both in their natural state—rooting around, bonding, nuzzling, cuddling, grooming one another, and charming each other with their family instincts and rituals—and in the sad conditions of the factory farm. The book also addresses the effect eating animals has on our environment, rainforests, and endangered species. At the end, a section entitled “What Else Can We Do?” suggests ways children can learn more about the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.
The boldest step yet in children’s literature, this heartfelt, informative book offers a key resource to inspire parents and children to talk about a timely, increasingly important subject.
Welcome to Organisations That Have Recently Registered with IVU
Vegetarians In Canada - groups.yahoo.com/group/vegetariansincanada
Vegetarian Spice - email group - groups.yahoo.com/group/vegetarianspice
Dr. Goerg Premium Coconut Products (Deutsch) - www.virgin-coconut-oil.de
Vegan Future - www.myspace.com/veganfuture
Cascina Rosso, Piedmont Italy (Enlglish page) - www.cascinarosso.info/English_home.html
Friendly Vegetarian Food Supplier - www.friendlyvegetarian.com.sg
India Cultural Center - www.indiacultural.es
International Federation of Classical Yoga - www.profesoresdeyoga.es
A veggie food connoisseur in London - www.fussyveggie.blogspot.com
border_veggievegans email group - uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/border_veggievegans
heavymetalveg - groups.yahoo.com/group/heavymetalveg/
The Best Vegetarian Recipes - www.thebestvegetarianrecipes.com
Arbonne International - www.premierproducts.myarbonne.com
Bello Iris- Where Fashion Meets Compassion - www.belloiris.com
Prolife Vegans and Vegetarians - message board - prolifevegansandvegetarians.freeforums.org
To view a listing of international upcoming events online, visit www.ivu.org/congress
- NAVS (North American Vegetarian Society) Summerfest – 8-12 Jul, 2009 - Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA
- Minding Animals Conference 13-18 July, 2009, Newcastle, Australia
- FARM Animal Rights Conference – 16-20 Jul, 2009 - Los Angeles
- 12th International Vegan Festival - 22-25 Jul, 2009, Rio de Janeiro
The world longs for peace, respect and dignity. The Environment is being mercilessly destroyed and gives back its answer. Natural resources are being exhausted by the unsustainable exploitation imposed by a wasteful mode of life. We lose species diversity without even knowing it. Diseases, obesity, suffering and hunger abound.
After so many years of ideals of 'peace and love', 'gender and ethnic equality', ‘freedom of speech' and 'respect for nature' we still crawl on, delegating to others the task of bringing about lasting, real changes. By changing our life style we can play a vital role in the construction of the better world we all want, where the white dove of peace can rest her tired feet.
- 2009 Healthy Lifestyle Expo – 16-18 October, 2009, Burbank, California
- West African Vegetarian Congress - 29 Oct-1 Nov, 2009, Accra, Ghana
- Asian Vegetarian Congress – 6-10 Nov, 2009. Batam, Indonesia
The 4th Asian Vegetarian Congress, organised by the Asian Vegetarian Union and the Indonesia Vegetarian Society, will be held on Batam Island, Indonesia, near Singapore from 6-10 Nov. People from everyone in the world are warmly welcome to enjoy delicious Indonesian vegetarian food.
Among those who have agreed to speak are 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, R.K. Pachauri, well-known vegetarian crusader Maneka Gandhi, and IVU Regional Coordinators for India and for Asia-Pacific, Shankar Narayan and Susianto Tseng.
- China Xiamen International Vegetarian Food Fair - 12-15 Nov, 2009
- IVU World Vegetarian Congress – 1-7 Oct, 2010, Jakarta and Bali
The 39th IVU World Vegetarian Congress will be held in Indonesia in two places, Jakarta, the capital (and the economic centre of the country) and Bali, the country’s most famous tourist destination. The Congress starts in Jakarta and then moves to Bali. An outline of the programme is available.
Other Online Sources of Veg News
In addition to IVU Online News, there are many other places to go online for general veg-related news, rather than news mostly about one country or one organisation. Here are some.
1. Dawn Watch
2. European Vegetarian Union News
3. Farmed Animal Net
4. Vegan Outreach
6. AnimalConcerns.org doesn't have a newsletter, but they post stories daily
Please Send News to IVU Online News
Dear Veg Activist
Please use this newsletter as a way to share your knowledge, ideas and experiences with fellow veg activists.
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