Octopussy

I have lived in Korea for so long now that I feel part of the furniture.

Sometimes I feel so in tune with this country that I don’t notice the language barriers, the different smells,  or the cultural traits that are so far removed from my own.
Yet, there are moments that make me jump back and re-access my predicament and realise that I am actually, really, honestly living in South Korea!
For the most part life is good and then I go into my kindergarten class one day and all hell breaks lose.

I teach 8 year olds in the morning, bear in mind they are 8 years old in Korean culture but really in western culture they are 7 years old or even 6, (in Korea a baby is 1 when born and ages every 1st January even if born late December) and sometimes I forget that they are a different culture until I saw Roy last week.
Roy, a very smart young man, came to school with very unusual red dots on his top lip.  The dots were in perfect formation and led me to scratch my heard in wonderment at the non-rash-like problem on poor Roy’s face.
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When I asked Roy what was on his face the answer was both disturbing and disgusting,
“It is a bite from the baby octopus I ate.”
EW!
**Here is a list of some of the weird things Koreans eat including live octopus.**

When my poor 7 year old victim told this information to me my first thought was that I would never want to put my child through the trauma of being attacked by something struggling for it’s life.
Then I thought about the octopus.

I read an interesting article recently about the actual genius of the octopus. Their brains are so alien to us and so different from anything we usually study that we seem to be able to learn a lot from these sea creatures.
The most exquisite thing is that their brain is not centrally located like ours are but, instead, 2/3 of it’s brain is located in it’s eight arms.
The arms work of their own accord, separate from each other, but still as a team, something humans cannot do.
This has given ideas to scientists and engineers, for years, about how to programme robots for the future and make them more remarkable.

So why -when octopuses are so astounding-do we wish to eat them alive?
If one eats an octopus, whose brain is located in it’s leg, then any form of chewing would be agony.
If the octopus is dissected alive before eating, which it commonly is, the continual hacking at any of the cut off tentacles would continue to be painful: The brain is in the tentacles.

Maybe the fact that we are so far removed from such an alien-like creature gives us grounds to swallow it down without thought.
But then, what is the excuse for a mammal that we eat and a vertebrae that we readily consume?

We-humans- have forgotten that we are animals too and that we have used our assumed superiority to trample our way to the top.
What if we used our superiority for good?
What if we used it to observe and care for our amazing fellow animals?
What if we noticed a creature fighting for it’s life and we saved it rather than ended it?

I do not know if Roy’s parents decided that their son shouldn’t be physically scarred again (even if only temporarily) or if they will continue to feed him live octopus but I hope it is the former.

I will end with a picture of an octopus using a coconut shell to protect itself from harm-clever little gits !

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The Vegans are Coming

I decided a while ago, actually my 2014 resolution, that I would be a vegan that people instantly warm to. I would be glowing and radiant with the message I even planned to be a body builder HA that didn’t quite happen on account that I am a lazy cow! But it is so hard because we are now becoming an actual ‘thing’ and people are so shit scared!
Scared that we may take over the world.
Scared that we may invade their homes and replace their steaks with a cabbage.
Scared that we will take away their jerky and replace it with cashews.
Scared we will donate their leather handbag and replace it with a hemp string carrier.
Scared that we will strip naked, turn off the TV and meditate.
Scared we will replace their beloved Rover with Daisy the Dairy cow and 12 rescued chickens.

God, the list could quite literally go on.
And yes, that world actually seems o.k to me! But fear not meat and dairy lovers we will not do that, what we will do is replace your food with exactly the same tasting food just without death.
Amazing!

I noticed today that the milk companies are trying very desperately  (check out this article on new social media plans by the dairy industry) to make us look unhealthy and incorrect.
Note that the meat industry gave up their propaganda a long time ago, it is of no use they can no longer convince us that supermodels eat sausage and bacon!
But
*Ta Da*
here comes the dairy industry to wreck our day!

On Twitter there is an account called @milklife…go there at your own risk.
Of course it is full of lies and propaganda and it hurts my head to see what is on there,
Let us examine this picture for example
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First off most vegans are relatively healthy in comparison to those who consume animal products and vegans are also more interested in health because it is a natural process that happens.
We see the changes in our bodies and we realize that what we eat is the whole secret it is the everything to how we feel on the inside and look on the outside.
Fuel your body with goodness.
Therefore it is my belief that most vegans who will forever live this lifestyle will make their own almond milk or seek out products that are not filled with crap.
Therefore Almond milk = Almonds + Water .

Secondly, if vegans don’t seek out the healthiest option (which is fair since our business lives demand so much of our precious time anyway)  it is ridiculous to even suggest that the only better alternative is to drink something that is completely unnatural for us.
This video will tell you everything you need to know about milk, everything is from medical journals everything is FACT!
It isn’t propaganda, it isn’t fabricated for a booming business it is simply the truth.

If humans really thought about things logically and were not clouded by fear of becoming something wacky ( I am wacky) they would know without question the right milk to drink.

*We are the only mammal that drinks milk beyond our infancy
*We are the only mammal  that drinks another mammal’s milk.
I have looked and I have yet to see a rabbit suck an elephant’s tit!
*Cow’s milk is for baby cows just like human milk is for human babies.
*Cow’s milk is designed to aid in the growth of a calf which doubles its size in 45 days where as we take 180 days . source

Vegans have been regularly accused of being judgmental and critical.
A famous plant based cook Deliciously Ella decided to air her thoughts publicly in The Telegraph newspaper this week. Scroll down to beneath the third picture of her.
Note- I have so much to say on this issue and I have done so for the past 4 days that I am moving on, she is not worth my precious time and there are far more beautiful people to be inspired by then someone who steps on minority groups to reach the top.

However, vegans are neither judgmental or critical we are passionate and driven.
When you finally see the light, when you realise you have been lied to for corporations to make money you can’t quite believe that others don’t see it too and in the process of trying to wake them up you seem arrogant.
Put that together with the fact that people don’t actually want to know the truth and don’t want to change you have a formula for disaster.

From here on forth I will be more proud of what I am but I will also be more patient and open to questions and learning.

What I ask is that people don’t believe everything they read, there is a huge amount of propaganda against the vegan movement because we simply cost corporations lots of money.
Veganism in this day and age isn’t a piece of cake, it’s easier than before but it’s still work.
Everywhere we go we have to seek out things to eat so we don’t compromise our lifestyle, we don’t live this life to be difficult it is something we must do so that we can find peace.

The Vegans are coming…Open your heart and your fridge.

Have a Heart, Have a Salad.

I have been in Korea for nearly 5 years on and off, through my time in Korea I have gone from being a vegetarian to a vegan and the transition in mind as well as in diet is really something quite extraordinary.

A quick explanation of how my husband, Colin and I got together is rooted in our mutual animal respect. Colin was a meat eater when I met him and quickly transitioned over to a vegetarian when he found the meat less quality than it was where he grew up in the states. It seems very strange for me to write in those terms because to me meat is meat and meat is murder but at one time we both excused everything and I do believe that is a natural process onto realizing there are no true excuses anymore.

I was volunteering for a dog rescue shelter in Gimhae, a city in the South of Korea which actually hosts a dog meat market near the bus station, always very uncomfortable to witness when arriving to help the dogs rescued from such a fate.
The dogs are in cages, dirty and uncared for and are awaiting their fate, a long tortuous death sometimes in front of other dogs.
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The ways I have heard the dogs are killed range from setting on fire to beatings to boilings.

There are many sites on the internet that will explain in more detail the killing and atrocity of the business and they can tell you more than I can or wish to.
All I know is that the Gimhae meat market is a sorry site and it’s definitely a poor man’s business (both monetarily and emotionally.)

When Colin and I volunteered for this dog shelter we felt much pride in what we were doing and even felt somewhat superior to those who don’t take time out of their social lives to help the dogs. We enjoyed the people running the shelter and those who attended and I even had a small party at mine with lots of food (mostly dairy unfortunately) to raise some money.

What I am most disappointed about is that I drew a line under this volunteering, I felt that what I was doing was completely enough and I was on top of the world, pointing out its faults and fixing them. Go ME!
Now, I am ashamed because once I even thanked a local bar for holding a hot dog contest to raise money for the dogs.

I was thanking him for the unnecessary slaughter of innocent living beings to save another much more well-loved pet.

The news is full to the brim of happy stories of dogs and cats being saved, Colin and I have 2 cats ourselves rescued from Poland but there is little evidence of happy rescued farm animals

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We have emotionally stuck these animals in a big, metal, cold barn and ignored their plight and focused on the cuter ‘pets’ to run free.

People get so outraged at Asia for killing dogs for meat and so they should but by that logic shouldn’t we be up in arms about the 6o billion farm animals slaughtered ever year for food?
Food that we are known to waste at an astonishing amount.

Humans find it difficult to understand two things.

  1. A) Humans are a species of animals too and the only way we have managed to crawl to the top of the food chain is by destroying every other animal in our path. We are highly intelligent and unfortunately we have chosen to use our brains to do harm rather than good, we even destroy our own species through war and hate how on earth could we ever sympathise /save another species?
  2. B)  All animals are equal and we are not more equal than others. We all exist by the grace of *insert who/what you believe* and we should encourage life not death.
    Dogs are no more animals than pigs than cows than chickens than rats.Why do we love one and hate another?

We have been duped, lied to and used by companies driven by greed and power. The world would be a much more beautiful place without money, living as the other animals do but we have trade, and consumerism, and class wars and power and we must try and fight it to keep our heads above the water.

I feel cheated, I want so much more out of life than what has been created by me and my fellow man.
Demand change, live like you want to not how they tell you to.

I sign petitions, I focus on specific cases at specific times on specific animals such as Lolita the Whale but I know that the only way to really change the world is if people switched to a vegan diet.
Have a heart people, have a salad!

It’s as Simple as Black and White.

Yesterday on the 17th January 2015 there was a March for Lolita in Miami.
Lolita is an Orca Whale who has been held captive in the Seaquarium, Miama for 44 years, what is worse is that she performs the same dumb performance 3 times a day for dead fish.

I tried to imagine this as part of my life, I teach English to children in South Korea and I see different kids with different levels and different textbooks every day. So I thought how horrid it would be to see the same snotty kids, having the same conversations, answering the same questions 3 times a day and not even for freedom, not even for my weekends, not even for a comfortable home. I do it for dead fish that I would catch in the wild in a much more interesting way, it is my nature to dive deep to hunt for live fish.
I don’t get a day off, I sit in a bath tub waiting for the same class to come back and do the same thing again and again. BnNDuKYIIAEsrDj

Hugo, another captive whale in with Lolita for 10 years with whom Lolita did have intercourse with but no babies were produced, died from Aneurysm Cerebral Artery in 1980. He bashed his head against the concrete wall repeatedly either out of boredom or in an attempt to commit suicide, suicide isn’t a ridiculous concept when you think that Orca whales are possible as smart as chimpanzees if not smarter, more intelligent than us? I am going to go with yes since we are the ones who pay good money to see someone stand on an Orca’s stomach rather than go on one of the epic tours that exist to see Orcas in the wild..
God we are dumb.

I went to one because I was dumb.
I went to Seaworld in Florida about 10 years ago and watched the amazing Orca Whale dance and bounce and perform. It’s dorsal fin bent from being in captivity something that is a very rare occurrence in the wild because of the space to move and jump and dive and exercise.
I read that their collapsed dorsal fins are comparable to us going to the gym, if we work a muscle with weights it will become strong and muscular if an Orca Whale exercises its dorsal fin it will become strong and muscular too.

100% of captive males have collapsed dorsal fins.

Many people find it disrespectful when animal rights is compared to human rights. I personally am very careful not to use the word ‘holocaust’  when I refer to animal rights even though by definition holocaust means ‘destruction or slaughter on a mass scale’.
Holocaust
(Picture by Colin Culbreth)
Some people at the March yesterday chose to be open and frank and compare the Lolita captivity to the slavery of the 18th and 19th century. To those who choose a life of ignorance this also seems disrespectful but for those who choose to see the cruelty that exists in this entertainment it is a very obvious comparison.

I was teary eyed when seeing some of the beautiful talks at the March yesterday, here is one describing the release plan for Lolita.
Seaquarium, Miami has been on TV announcing that Lolita will certainly die if she is released.
My answer to this is , if she dies she will die free.
Is her death in the ocean, in her own home worse than the death of Hugo who bashed his head against a concrete wall?

Seaquarium is scared, they are trying to use any means necessary to stop people being compassionate and to keep the money coming in. They have absolutely no right to even have an opinion on this since they are the ones who forced her into this life in the first place.

They should be shamed into silence.

I am not American but I feel strongly tied to America since I married one, my only good excuse for this is that he is incredibly good looking, and I do feel that as a country they have a huge amount of faults. I used to see it as the greatest country on earth but unfortunetly this is far from how I see it now for many reasons but if they pull together and manage to free Lolita, if the incredible March held in Miami yesterday makes history I will sing  the American national anthem! (well one verse anyway let’s not get ahead of ourselves 😉 )
America has the chance to show the rest of the world that it is leaps and bounds ahead.
As that wonderful Statue of Liberty says
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..”

Whoa…This is Heavy!

Congratulations, if you are reading this you made it to the year that Marty McFly flew to in his DeLorean! 2015!

I truly believed that 2014 was the year that vegans were going to rule the world, or at least make big movements and we did make some (check out these bad boys) but now is the year to really make a difference.

We are now recognised as more than just hippie weirdos in mainstream media, my husband and I have noticed that the references to veganism has become more and more acceptable and less used as a punchline well except for this.

We were the awesome Lesbian vegans in ‘Pride’ and we were portrayed as a  vegan son in an episode of Midsomer Murders (yes, my husband and I shamelessly watch this on You Tube) who made a point to mention why the Dairy Industry is awful and who wasn’t the murderer of those that ran the Dairy farm …
Hooray!

Also if you haven’t watched ‘Bones’ you should because animal activist and vegan actress Emily Deschanel uses her show to drop great big vegan hints and we love her for it!

It has become politically incorrect/professional suicide to portray us as the loser/enemy, why? maybe because there are so many of us out there now!

Again…
Hooray!!

I would tell people who are considering joining the increasingly growing movement to plan, plan, plan before doing so, not to put you off but to ensure that you don’t fall off the wagon soon after. It disheartens me that I hear so many stories of people giving up being vegan because it was too hard to be healthy when the reality is that it is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself, other humans, animals and the environment.

We are not at a place yet where veganism is as convenient as eating meat is but we are certainly getting there.

Give it time and realise that the more we (the consumers) demand, the more we can get.

7 Basic steps to being a vegan from a fellow vegan (not an expert in any way, shape or form)

1. Prepare. Read vegan blogs, those that will really show you healthy recipes that are quick and easy and also give you support. Knowing there are other vegans out there always helps me and puts a huge smile on my face.

Here are a list of the best to follow but bear in mind there are so many out there you just have to do a faithful google search 😉

2. Don’t eat less, eat MORE. The thing about being a vegan is that it opens up your world to a different food mindset. When I was 17 I became a vegetarian then I read and at 28 I became a vegan then I read and a year later I started eating organic and a lot healthier, diving into the world of words I had never heard before..Quinoa, Flax, Nutritional yeast, Chickpeas, Chia, Turmeric…. the list goes on.

I had grown up on fish fingers, chips, and beans and I have come a long way with a long way to go.

You don’t have to eat any less as a vegan you can eat so much more especially if it is all good, unprocessed food.

3. Start your day with a smoothie. I love smoothies, sometimes when I wake up I am so tired that I can’t even imagine beginning to teach 5 year olds at 9am (yes, I do that as a living!) but instead of a coffee, which is what most people will look for especially in Korea (where I teach said 5 year olds), I have a smoothie. The best thing about them is that you are literally packing so much food into it that you are saving so much time remembering to eat it all later.

Our morning smoothie,

1 +1/2 bananas

2-3 oranges

2-3 handfuls of frozen fruit (blueberries/strawberries/blackberries..whatever is in the freezer/on sale at the time)

Molasses (needs time to get used to but tastes so sweet and packed with Iron)

Spinach (Cannot be tasted and is digested more successfully with Vit. C)

2 tablespoons of Flax/chia mix

I have basically had all my fruit needs met before I start work and I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day unless to snack.

4. Make notes about how your body and mind changes. I am not anywhere near as healthy as some and I am very lazy when it comes to exercise, but I have noticed changes that really make a difference to me.

I have a lot more long-lasting energy that consistently keeps me going through the day.

My skin has improved it used to be a lot dryer especially at the elbows.

I don’t have white spots under my finger nails. (A common idea is that these white spots are calcium deficiencies and if you have them you MUST drink more milk! HA)

I went to the dentist 6 months ago to have an x-ray of the bones that support my teeth which are now very strong and very healthy!

I have lost weight that I found hard to shift before and it stays off, even if I eat a thousand ‘fatty’ avocados.
Good fat is Good fat so don’t give it up!

5. Find vegan friends/groups. I have wonderful friends from my dark past as a meat eater 😉 who support me wholeheartedly but I cannot be myself with them as much as I would like. When it comes to food I always try my best not to be the burden, but sometimes I would LOVE to be the burden. That is where vegan friends come in, being able to eat openly and talk about issues is such a weight lifter.
Vegan groups can be found anywhere, there is even a vegan potluck in Seoul, Korea!

6. Always remember why. My reason for being a vegan is first and foremost because of the animals which always helps my will power stay strong, but whether you are a vegan for animals, health or the environment keep focussed at all times so you don’t slip out of habit.

7. Don’t listen to others. Most vegans will tell you that the hardest part about being a vegan is dealing with people, not finding food or eating right just the people! People can be brutal, forgive their ignorance and hurtful comments. Don’t forget all vegans have experienced the exact same situations and questions that you will inevitably be faced with. Read this article and memorise the responses. 🙂

Go forth and prosper young vegan, you are about to change the world!

The Wooly Mammoth in the Room.

After reading so much recently about how we treat each other and how we treat  animals nothing surprises me anymore. I have an inability to be surprised. I knew when I became a vegan (2012) that I shouldn’t be wearing wool. I must admit I wasn’t 100% sure why and I fear most people aren’t. But now I know.

Tragically I have started watching ‘sex and the city’ for the third time all the way through. I am disappointed in my lack of willpower but in a way it has opened my eyes to how atrocious our society has become. Let’s put aside the fact that 1 out of every 8th person in the world is chronically undernourished and yet the developed world is obsessed with fashion, but let’s look at what we do to the voiceless.
One episode caught my attention the other day, the Birkin bag episode, in which Samantha puts herself on a waiting list to buy a $4,000 bag (apologies to those who are much more intelligent than me and therefore have no idea who Samantha is).
In September of this year a Birkin bag made from the skin of an almost albino crocodile was sold for nearly £120,000. I don’t know how humans are so different from each other that one person sees a beautiful bag worth £120,000 and others (me) see an animal that got nothing out of life, the crocodile was bred, lived in captivity and then got skinned for someone to walk around with a carry case for their lipstick.
My heart bleeds for the state of the world and then we move onto wool.

I understand that it is easier for someone to understand the anger at the crocodile bag in comparison to the wooly jumper but there isn’t much difference in the worthlessness of the animal’s life here and we need to focus on making things better for everyone/everything.

I looked up some ‘fun’ facts about wool and here are two to share,
Fact number 1- Bedouins (desert dwellers) have used wool for centuries to keep them cool in the summer heat.
This fact made me think about the continual question I get as a vegan about my diet, ‘but we have been eating meat for years, why are you stopping something that is tradition?’
If culture didn’t evolve we would still be living in caves, there needs to be a shift in how we do things for us to continue on the path to becoming civilised human beings.
Fact number 2- the fastest recorded shearing of a sheep was by Hilton Barrett from Australia, 39.31 seconds.
Seriously, try giving a very hairy man a shave in 39.31 seconds without hurting or causing him any discomfort.
This to me screams an absence of empathy.
We use these sheep as machines, we discard their feelings and we praise those who beat records without once a thought for the sheep he sheared.
Animals have been taken out of all equations and it is cleverly done so that consumer’s minds won’t wander and questions won’t be raised.
Peta has undercover videos graphically showing sheep being abused for their wool.
Dragged. Beaten. Stabbed. Punched.
Bear in mind shearers get paid by volume of wool not by hour!
The lambs have their ears hole-punched, tails are cut off and males from 2-8 weeks are castrated all without painkillers.
But that wooly jumper sure looks good.

Wild sheep that haven’t been bred for their wool do not need to be sheared. There was a time before man invented cutters, it makes sense that sheep were and are able to live free of haircuts, otherwise there wouldn’t be any sheep!
Their wool grows just enough to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer, just like the Bedouins use it for.

On the other hand there are sheep such as the Merino sheep that are genetically engineered to have wrinkly skin for more wool growth and therefore do need shearing.

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There are many problems with this,
if they are not sheared in time and many aren’t they die of heat stroke. If the shearers shear them early, sometimes Spring, which many do to meet high demand many die of exposure.
Because of the Merino sheep’s wrinkly skin around the buttock area urine can gather and that moisture attracts flies which lay eggs, this is called flystrike to resolve this issue the wrinkly skin is cut away with metal shears so no moisture can gather.
This is called Mulesing and by law in Australia antiseptics, anaethesisa and painkillers are not required for this procedure, can you imagine the pain?

All too often I have seen this type of picture, the sheep/lamb restrained and an open sore wound where he has just been sliced like meat without any painkillers.
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If we cannot fathom enduring such pain then we shouldn’t inflict it on any other creature.
Unfortunately the Australian Wool Industry which produces 1/4 of all the wool worldwide seems to be avoiding the issue and trying to get away with continuing this inhumane treatment but there is s big outcry against the practice and with more and more pressure things will hopefully change for the better.

Finally we should discuss what is done with these sheep when they are no longer used for wool, off to the slaughter house of course. Australia does have certain animal welfare laws but these all become null and void when they ship 3 million live sheep a year to the middle east for slaughter. The voyage can take days to weeks and in cramped, filthy conditions death and disease is inevitable, the middle east has little to no animal welfare laws and once the sheep arrive, those that are still usable are thrown around, beaten, stabbed and killed according to Halal regulations, by having their throats slit while fully conscious dyeing slowly and painfully.

This winter season please pick up a jumper that doesn’t have a horror story knitted into its fabric.
Let’s take a step back and remember the animals behind the fashion, after all you can’t take a wooly jumper and a Birkin bag with you in end but you can take a clear conscience.

Bearing All

I think I have done more research on the Moon Bear (Asiatic Black bear) than I have done on any other animal on the planet. In 2012 I did a blog post about them for another blog site I had, note my relationship with writing has been on and off. However when I did that I was far more immature in my understanding and also in my research, I wanted to produce a nice blog post without truly understanding what I was finding out about. I read another blog recently from a man who wrote last year about the plight of the Moon Bears, he said that he had found something out that he wish he hadn’t and now he will share it.

I feel the same.

I don’t want to be alone in my agony that this world we live in does what it does to animals every blink of an eye, every second of every day.

When my husband and I had our blessing this year we decided to use donations as favours. My donation was to two animal charities one of them being
Animals Asia a rescue and rehabilitation charity for Moon Bears. Their site is where I learnt all about the daily agony of the bears on Bear Bile farms.

One must understand when reading this that Bear Bile farms are legal in China initially to protect bears in the wild from being poached, however wild Bear bile actually sells for a lot more money than farmed bile ($16,000/kg compared to $3,000/kg respectively) and loopholes exist that allow bears to be removed from the wild.

The law simply does nothing and it must be eradicated.

Moon Bears are so called because of the beautiful yellow crescent on their chest. They are solitary creatures yet are playful and intelligent and pretty damn adorable.

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Sadly, they harbour a terrible truth and it lies right in their gut, or more specifically their gall bladder. Bear Bile contains Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) which is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for liver and gall bladder problems as a pain-killer or anti-inflammatory, among other things. This ingredient is completely replaceable using both natural herbal ingredients or synthetic ones. However, consuming Bear Bile gives a superficial status which seems to be very important in China.

As I go on bear in mind that there are approximately 12,000 farmed bears in China and Vietnam combined (not forgetting Korea, which I will return to later, and other parts of Asia which also take part in this business) and each different farm has different methods of extracting and holding the bears, however each just as sordid as the last.

Farmed Bears, those that were not killed outright for their gall bladder, are sometimes missing limbs because they were caught in the wild using snares, and  spend 10-15 years living in tiny cages getting milked for their bile everyday.
Their claws are ripped out and their canine teeth are cut so they can’t instinctively defend themselves, they are starved and the only time they usually see food or fresh water is at time of milking so they are more manageable also, bile is produced and used to break down food fats if the bears rarely eat there is more bile to collect. Specially made cages called crush cages are sometimes used to crush the bear down to the bottom of the cage to aid in the milking process, some bears are left in these crush cages for years.

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As I said methods of extraction differ from farm to farm but each and every one is as painful and frankly unbelievable as the next. One method involves inserting a metal tube into the bear’s gall bladder, how it got there more than likely caused a lot of discomfort to the bear, was done without pain relief, was unsanitary and probably done by the farmer himself.  It should be noted that student veterinarians in China can choose to study in several different ways from a 3 month animal handling course to a 5 year degree. Once any of these is completed one is a certified veterinarian. If the farmer chooses not to insert the metal tube himself you can bet he wouldn’t hire a vet with a 5 year degree over one with a 3 month course, money always talks and in this case swears.
This metal tube remains in the gall bladder and each time bear bile is to be collected a plug is removed and the bile drips into a tray underneath the bear.

In the mid-1990’s the Chinese government encouraged free-dripping methods which seemed more humane. A tube is made using the bear’s own tissue and the farmer inserts a rubber tube into the hole at milking time to collect the bile. Two horrendous things arise from the free-dripping method, if the skin naturally starts to heal itself the farmer will have to force something through the skin to break the seal causing unimaginable pain (red-hot metal probes have been known to be used). Additionally bile leakage is a regular side effect and causes at the very least terrible burns on the bear’s outer skin and at the very worst peritonitis which is always fatal in these bears.

My blood is boiling as I read that a Chinese representative from CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) stated that the use of the bear’s own skin to make a tube ensures a pain-free bile extraction being as it is similar to the anus.
I know who I think is similar to an anus, anus!
If representatives of companies that help endangered animals are both wilfully ignorant and just plain ridiculous then it is hard to imagine a hopeful finale for the Moon Bears.

As a resident in South Korea it is difficult for me to ignore the fact that Korea is a major contributor to the Bear Bile industry both through production and black market trade with China. Bear Bile farming is illegal in Korea but South Korean law allows farmed bears to be slaughtered for their parts at 10 years old. It seems the government turn a blind eye to the obvious, people are not going to pay to keep bears alive for 10 years without making some kind of profit in the meantime.
There are an estimated 1,800 bears on farms in Korea and the most ironic thing of all is that the Bear is legendarily known as the mother of the founder of Korea.

**Hwan-Ung, the son of God, asked to be put on Earth, for he longed to live there. So God sent him to Korea. Once there he met a tiger and a bear who desired to become human. Hwan-Ung told them that if they ate only garlic cloves and mugwort for 100 days and lived in darkness, they would then become humans. The tiger gave up but the bear persisted.
She became a human!
Hwan-Ung then married the bear and they had a baby together, who went on to become the first king of Korea!**

First point, it is a little bit twisted that a country uses their own legendary symbol of greatness and power as a commodity in this gruesome way and second, the bear’s persistence, its strength in the face of pure evil is what is the most unfortunate thing of all.
For over a decade they can survive the traumas and tortures of being machines.

However there is hope for these majestic creatures through the wonderful people at Animals Asia who have rescued over 200 moon bears and go onto heal them, rehabilitate them and love them at their centres both in China and Vietnam.

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 22.12.01 bears in water

TCM philosophises that one cause of disease is disharmony between human and environment , if that be the case these animals must be revered rather than tortured and TCM must publicly denounce the use of bear bile in order to maintain the harmony they so deeply desire.

As a vegan I can only feel that this harmony will come about by living a life free of animal products and therefore free of animal exploitation. The fear, pain, worthlessness and anxiety that all animals are made to face for human greed is unnecessary and detrimental to our own bodies and peace of mind.
Consuming with a free conscience is true harmony.

Watch a short video to see first hand Animals Asia’s hard work.
Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 17.47.23 Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 17.53.14

Keep your honey, honey.

I am not the smartest person out there, in fact I should be diagnosed allergic to study. However, there is something extraordinary in being interested in something and finding out more about it until your brain switches off and you need a nap (which usually happens to me)

But I found myself looking for something to be interested in recently, I want to be smarter so I have to study, right?
Recently when I was home in the good old Welsh valleys a young man approached me in the shopping town of Neath and I noticed from his red shirt and clipboard that he was doing one of those horrid summer jobs where you stand in the streets, day in and day out, and get ignored constantly by people in a hurry. So of course  I tried to ignore him and pretend I was in a hurry however he gained my interest by mentioning bees. I know a little about our buzzy fuzzy friends through being a vegan and I stopped purely out of curiosity.
“Bee rates are in decline” he said.
“What are you doing to help?”
“I am a vegan”, I replied. Yep I sounded really smug and sometimes you can get away with it, I try not to do it too often though 😉
“It’s ok to eat honey though, it’s good for you” he retorted, I am sure he hated by smugness.
“But it’s bee vomit” Ta Da.

I made a sharp exit hurrying into a store because anything more than the the bee vomit comment would have been way more than I could handle since I actually didn’t know too much about bees and honey. Now I do.

Why don’t vegans eat honey?

The basic rule of thumb is that Vegan by definition
Veganism /ˈvɡənɪzəm/ is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals.  Thanks Wiki

So if we want to label ourselves vegan, or more likely the world would like to label us so they can differentiate the weirdos from the ‘normal’ people (High five weirdos), we should not consume anything made for or by animals.
We are not the only species that eats honey, more importantly we are not the ones that NEED honey.
“A thick, golden liquid produced by industrious bees, honey is made using the nectar of flowering plants and is saved inside the beehive for eating during times of scarcity” (Source)

It is incredible how hard these little bees work, they search all day for flowers, sucking out it’s nectar,

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 19.10.14

 

with their tongue, they then fly back to their hive where the nectar has been kept in their stomach and vomit it right into another bee’s mouth, back and forth until they have a more honey-like consistency.
The honey is too liquidy when put into the honeycomb so the bees then flap their wings in order to speed up evaporation.

Why are bee rates in decline?
There are numerous factors contributing to the decline of bees.According to Marla Spivak, an expert on bees who did an impressive talk on Ted (please watch) one of the main contributing factors is pesticides.

Colony Collapse Disorder (Bees just disappearing) could be down to the fact that ingesting pesticides in particular the insecticide ‘Neonicotinoid’ (try saying that 10 times fast after a glass of wine) which is chemically similar to Nicotine has a great effect on the bees, if the flower has been treated with a high concentrate of this insecticide the bee will die. If the dose is a little lower than the bee may not die but will become disorientated (essentially drunk) and unable to find it’s way home.

Now some people may rejoice in the news of the decline of these insects, gone are the days of growing up and being careful not to be stung by one of the 20,000 plus types of these creatures.
(Although I am not sure the man below would agree that bee’s are scary.)

 

blog.beardtoken.com

blog.beardtoken.com

But unfortunately, bees are important, far more important than us. If we go extinct the world would go on and possibly thrive, if bees go extinct 1/3 of our crops would disappear.
Everything in our world is dependant on us working as a team, from the small bees to the biggest trees. The sooner we realise this and refrain from doing something just because it hasn’t hurt us yet the better.
I also urge you to consider buying Organic to petition with your purse, unfortunately the world we live in puts higher price tags on feeding ourselves healthy and many can’t afford a full organic shop but there are ways and means.

heartofwisdom.com

heartofwisdom.com

This list, that can be found all over the internet in different forms, will serve as a guide to what foods you can save money on by buying non-organically.
We need to make a stand against pesticides destroying our planet.
It isn’t just the present that counts, Bee careful for the future.