Shark Week: A Review

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I finally got around to watching some of the Shark Week episodes that I wanted to see. The one highest on my list was Alien Sharks.  The write up was: Alien Sharks is back on Shark Week to find the strangest shark in the waters. Dr. Craig O’Connoll travels to the Bass Strait for sawsharks, while Victoria Elena Vasquez and Dr. David Ebert go into deep water in Tokyo Bay to find the goblin shark. I love the specials where they go super deep because we see marine life that is super rare.

Some of the previews looked like they had pulled up some of the sharks which I thought was a little strange. They usually ventured to the depths instead of pulling them from their habitat but I thought ok, we’ll see what happens.

It starts off with meeting one of the teams while they went searching a Tokyo fish market looking for a goblin shark, hoping to either find one on ice or that the fishermen had seen some around.  While they were asking the fishermen there were shots of people processing fish-descaling and cutting huge chunks up to sell.

It became very evident that this show/the researchers did not care about any other marine life other than the sharks they were looking for.  The Tokyo team went out with a fisherman who, the reason he’d pulled up so many goblin sharks was because he put his nets so much deeper than others to pull up the big Japanese spider crabs that were “big money”.  The fisherman, when interviewed, actually said that the sharks were “trash” to him, which made me think what he did with them when the researchers weren’t with him. Does he throw them back or does he leave them to die on his boat because he’s too busy with the crabs? It’s also not unheard of for fishermen to just kill the sharks or other marine life that gets caught in the nets right away.

The first day the researchers went out with him they found a few different types of sharks and I assumed they were going to take measurements and throw them back. Nope. They brought a few back to shore with them to take measurements and pictures. Which means that the sharks that they had pulled from the ocean were dead. All of this footage was interspersed with shots of other fishermen throwing these STILL LIVING crabs into a bucket to get ready to sell.

The second team in Tasmania was looking for sawsharks, specifically to tag them to see how far they go. They brought up a bunch right away, tagged them and released them. One researcher attached a camera to one and was able to record some footage. (They had to retrieve the camera in order to get the footage). The second time they went out they went with a fisherman who regularly brings in and sells sawsharks.

Discovery Channel says they’re “committed to sharks and the health of our oceans” but they’re hiring fishermen who make their livings off of over fishing and selling sea creatures-some living some dead. The Tokyo fisherman seemed like he went out often for the crabs. Which, according to a Wikipedia article about spider crabs, “The population has decreased in number due to overfishing, forcing fishermen into exploring deeper waters to catch them”.

I was only able to watch this special online but during the commercial breaks, guess what made its appearance….yep commercials specifically mentioning the Shark Week specials at seafood restaurants.  I find it totally ironic that many of these specials, during Shark Week or other times, are supporting the conservation of animals and land while the commercials try to entice you to eat the very thing they’re saying to protect. Talk about dissociation amongst watchers. They even mentioned with the Tasmania team that regardless of what is brought up it’s sold and made into food (while showing images of fried fish).

After that episode which made my stomach churn, I really felt like I’d watched my last Shark Week but I decided to try at least one more. The other was about the great hammerheads and it was much better. Research by observation to figure out why they come and leave Bimini, Bahamas and with the intent to cause very little stress to the sharks. (Spoiler alert: the sharks are pregnant and feast up before heading back to their place of birth to have their pups. Also, these sharks have 20-50 pups at a time every two years! Crazy!!)

So I’m conflicted on Shark Week. There seem to be some great researchers who really care about protecting these animals while others say they care but go about really shady ways of researching. Do we not question them because they’re researchers? I understand that research has to involve some non-living specimens but can we focus more on seeing how they live while they’re alive rather than theories after they’ve been purposefully pulled from the ocean for studies?

 

P.S. A special Thank You shout out goes to my husband for listening to my long winded rant about Alien Sharks before it was put into writing.

Silk

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For the record, silk moths are pretty darn adorable!

I used to play a computer game, Where in Time is Carmen San Diego (showing my age right there with that sentence). It was my favorite game! In this game you would try to catch Carmen’s ‘goonies’ that escaped from prison and went through a time machine and were causing mayhem throughout time.  One place we went was Ancient China, Genghis Khan China, and in order to get information we had to help people along the way.  One woman we ran into was making silk and she needed help. So we found her worms, then fed them leaves. As soon as their cocoons were spun we put them in the pot of water and it bubbled and then a silk tapestry came out! Wow this is so cool, my 12-year-old self thought. And then I just kept moving through the game.

The thing I just realized now is that I believe the game led us to believe the worms had fun in their boiling bath and could go on to produce more silk. (I’m not 100% sure because that was quite a long time ago and such a small part of the game).

After the silk topic was brought back up in a podcast I was listening to, I decided to look into it more (silk, not the computer game).

Silk worms are gorged on mulberry leaves which causes them to make their cocoons. Once the cocoons are made the worms, fully in their cocoons are thrown into boiling water where the worms are dissolved and their cocoons become the silk fibers we know of.  It takes 3000 silk worms in order to produce 1 k (about 2 pounds) of silk. “It takes about 5000 silkworms to make a pure silk kimono.”

Apparently, there are different kinds of silk too that are produced by other insects. I think one reason why silk isn’t always thought of as a ‘problem’ in the vegan community is because it’s hard for us to relate to insects and think they have thoughts and feelings. Just because they’re creepy crawly and I don’t want them in my house does not mean that they don’t feel fear and pain just like we do.

If you really think about it, silk is not just cruel but pretty gross. You’re basically wearing worm secretions. You’re laying your head on a pillow case made from worm barf. I mean that’s how cocoons are created.

I know insects are pretty low on the ‘things to care about’ totem-pole, but why do bees matter more than worms? Or ladybugs more than spiders? They all have a place in this world just like cows, dogs, and us. Being a vegan means not consuming, wearing, or using any animal products and not exploiting them. As Dr. Seuss says, “A person’s a person, no matter how small”. This goes for animals too.

Shark Week

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Discovery Channel’s 2017 Line Up

The amazing Shark Week is next week! Something I’ve loved since I was a kid (along with most people it seems)! I love sharks and have since I got my very first Shark edition of Zoobooks Magazine in the mail in the 90s.  I’ve read that edition so many times that it’s falling apart…anyway…

When I was young, shark week was about learning about sharks and getting more information out to the public in the hopes that if people know about them, they’ll want to save them.  The exact opposite of all of the shark attack videos that are constantly being made.

However, Discovery Channel has decided to kick off Shark Week with a show called “Great White Shark Serial Killer Lives”. Sigh. I thought we had gotten past that. Well that’s what puts butts in the seats right? Showing sharks as mindless killing machines.

Sharks don’t kill just to kill…that’s serial killers. They kill because 1. they’re hungry or 2. they bit just to taste to see if humans are food and since we are so fragile, their teeth do major damage and people end up dying from their injuries.

In past Shark Week specials we learned that sharks are playful. We watched as a shark came up to the side of a boat and the researcher was able to touch its nose, push it to the side and the shark came back to do it again. We also learned that sharks don’t have ‘soulless black eyes’. There is actually a ring of blue around the black.

Growing up, I had a friend who lived in the Midwest and had never been to the ocean and her biggest fear was sharks. Where did this come from? From the fear porn surrounding sharks.

The more we learn about animals the more we love them and want to protect them. Shark fins are still a delicacy in (mostly) Asian cultures which to ‘harvest’ consists of cutting off the fins of sharks WHILE THEY’RE STILL ALIVE and throwing the body back into the ocean.  If sharks are constantly portrayed as mindless killers, who is going to want to protect them?

Instead of the shark attack shows and movies, let’s learn more about them. They’re fascinating and so many things are still unknown about them. Let’s try to find out more before they disappear all together.

Say it with me:

“I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.”

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Freeing Animals, One Step at a Time

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One day buddy…one day.

One small step on the ladder of saving animals! First it’s Sea World stopping the use of orcas (though not all the other animals the have in captivity but baby steps I guess or maybe we call them snail steps). Now New York City is banning the use of wild animals in circuses. And it wasn’t even close! “In a decisive vote of 43 to 6, the New York City Council voted yesterday to ban the use of wild animals in circuses”. WHAAAA?!

“Both the New York Daily News and the New York Post agree: The momentum of the animal rights movement is not going to stop with wild animal acts. In a few short years, they may “free wild animals from captivity by shuttering New York’s zoos,” warned The Daily News. “If the zealots can finish off the circus, they’ll set their sights on zoos and aquariums next,” the Post wrote bitterly. These editorials echo the worst fears of the lobbyists for a dying industry: First circuses, then racetracks, then labs, then aquariums, then zoos, then farms. “Don’t expect it to end here,” said the Post.”

HAHAHA! I find this so funny because it makes me giddy! Let me call out this quote:

“If the zealots can finish off the circus, they’ll set their sights on zoos and aquariums next,” the Post wrote bitterly.

First off, zealots…haha. Second off, YES! THAT IS THE POINT!!! Freeing animals from the circus is just a small step for the animals. Animal rights activists want ALL animals freed from places they’re being exploited. For vegans it’s not just no animal products, it’s anti-animal exploitation as well. And what are zoos, aquariums, and circuses? They are ONLY places where animals are being used to bring in money. That’s it. No one would go to a zoo with no animals and just nature documentaries playing.

My all time favorite quote from the article:

Animal advocates have turned the impossible into the inevitable.

And:

Everyone who was ever told to “man up” and “get over” cruelty to animals — anyone who was ever told that the exploitation of animals is simply a fact of life — can now say with confidence: “No. It doesn’t have to be this way. A better, kinder world is possible.”

(Can I just quote the entire article as a post?!) The meat industry has always lead society to believe that ‘real men’ eat meat and that meat=manliness. Hunting as well. I’m not saying it’s only men but it’s definitely seen as a ‘manly sport’ (different post about why hunting is not a sport). To me, a ‘real man’ isn’t cruel. He values life, in all forms.

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(Alright, last one)

So once again, I find myself agreeing with The Daily News: “[I]t’s hypocritical as hell for government to ban heavily regulated circuses while we put captive wild animals on display for our edification, nevermind put millions of other animals on our plates.”

EXACTLY!!! That’s what we’ve been saying ALL along. Why do you eat a burger and think that’s ok, while petting your dog? It’s completely hypocritical.

It’s one small step on the animal rights ladder but we’re working our way to the top! It’s a long, uphill battle but we’re doing it! Rights for all animals, not just our pets!

Read the article here. The NYC Circus Ban Is Just The Beginning  Seriously, it’s amazing!

 

 

 

Buzz Off!

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Yeah that was a stupid title…moving on…

Angry California Bees Kill Dog After Hive Owner Harvests Honey.  This article is both sad and a little funny. Maybe funny isn’t the right word. Maybe ironic is a better word.

Basically what happened is in the title. The ‘owner’ of the hive tried to harvest the honey and the bees went crazy and stung him multiple times (he was wearing a suit). Then the swarmed the neighbor’s dogs and ended up killing one.

Because of this of course the bees were killed “to make sure that if there was any aggressive nature within that colony they were destroyed and were not able to repopulate somewhere else”.

That sucks and I’m sorry for the bees and the dogs. A little bit I guess for the ‘owner too’ but where was your smoker dude? It sounds like he was being stupid while trying to get the honey.

Here is my favorite part of the article:  “For an unknown reason, unknown to him or to us, when he attempted to harvest the honey the bees became very aggressive,” said Battalion Chief Rich Scola of the Ceres Fire Department.

“For an unknown reason”…..Unknown?! YOU STOLE THEIR F-ING FOOD! You bust in their hive where the queen and baby bees (ok larva) are living and tried to take all their food. Of course they’re going to attack. Their first instinct is protect the queen. The second is protect the colony. Why don’t people think of that?

Remember Winnie the Pooh always trying to get honey and the bees were always attacking him. Just because people think we’ve ‘domesticated’ bees doesn’t mean they actually are. They’re still wild animals. Maybe one is safe to be around, but the whole hive is still dangerous.

I don’t condone honey. Obviously, it’s an animal product and as a vegan I don’t believe in that. though some vegans are ok with honey and I used to be one.  I learned recently that honey is food for the bees and when humans take it they give the bees corn syrup to make up for their missing food. Then, when winter comes along it is usually cheaper to kill off the hive and get a new one the following spring than it is to keep them alive during the winter.

This article seems to paint bees in a negative light. Is it possibly because the writer is pro-GMOs? Is that thinking too much into it? Maybe…

How to Traumatize Students

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I know this is old news but I was all ready to hop on my vegan soap box and tear this teacher a new one but then I actually read the article instead of just the headline (I have a bad habit of doing that).

So the headline said, “Columbia High teacher kills rabbit as class demonstration”. Another headline said something like, ‘Teacher kills and cooks rabbit in front of class’. I pictured these students screaming as their teacher tore this rabbit out of its cage and killed it in front of them as part of a lesson plan.

Now if that was the full story, I would have flipped out if my child was in that class.

The actual story is that the students asked and it was not a mandatory lesson.

Ok so I wouldn’t have been as pissed knowing my kid was able to leave. Also, I would hope my kid would know if they ever felt uncomfortable in class that they could leave.

“A teacher brought in a rabbit, and did a demonstration about how a rabbit would be prepared as food for a family”, a spokesperson said.  “It’s not appropriate in the 10th grade class,” she said. “It wasn’t approved by the administration, it’s not part of biology [class,] so that judgment is not appropriate for that type of lesson in the classroom at 10th grade.”

Some of the students who stayed were “upset by the display” and some parents “felt killing an animal in the classroom was ill-advised.”

Hold the phone.

This was not appropriate for 10th graders? If people choose to eat meat I feel like they should have to watch where it comes from and how it’s prepared. And by 10th grade those kids had better know and understand how their food gets to their table. Again, if they’re going to eat meat they should know everything about how it’s prepared.

Students were upset. Well no shit Sherlock. Watching something being killed in front of you is traumatizing.

Parents thought it was ill-advised. Why do people never make the connection about where their food comes from? Is it because it was a rabbit and not everyone sees them as food? Would they feel  differently if it was a cow or a pig or a chicken?

Why do we never have demonstrations about vegetables? Call me crazy but aren’t growing fruits and veggies science? Oh, they’re too old for that kind of science? Funny since so many people think their food just comes from the grocery store.

 

 

Gorilla Dies of Heart Disease

A 32-year-old gorilla at the Cleveland zoo has died from heart disease.  He and the other gorilla at the zoo were diagnosed with heart conditions since 2008.

“Veterinarians had said earlier that little information exists on the heart health of the great apes and possible treatments, and the zoo largely relied on human medical information, according to The Plain Dealer, a Cleveland newspaper.”

This seems like just a normal article.  I bet most people will not even give this article a second thought but of course it made me stop in my tracks – shocking, I know but that’s why you’re here! To read my rants!

Gorillas don’t get heart disease.  Gorillas eat only leafy green plants and a bit of fruit. That diet does not produce heart disease.

The zoo said “their health improved after they were both given medication used to treat high blood pressure in humans, placed on high-fiber diets and made to forage for food scattered in their enclosure”.  Shocking (she said sarcastically). When the gorillas were allowed to actually act like and eat like they do in the wild, their health improved. Again, shocking…

How often do we hear of pets dying from cancer or kidney failure? Animals are not supposed to get these human illnesses. You will never find an animal in the wild, eating a wild diet that dies from cancer (and don’t give me the ‘they’ll die from predators first’ argument). They get these human illnesses from eating like humans and eating the food that they’re not meant to.

And of course they had to give extra money to the pharmaceutical company while they were at it. Most zoo animals are already on antidepressants. We take animals out of their natural habitat, away from everything the know, put them in a cement enclosure with painted walls to make it look like the place they left (actually it’s really only for the visitors. The animals are not that stupid), and then place a bucket of food in front of them that they are not meant to eat, well duh they’re going to be depressed.

We’ve got to stop acting as if more research about these diseases and animals is necessary. We know the cause, so stop contributing to it. *Mic Drop*

Link to the original article

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Would Newt Scamander Be a Vegan?

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I just watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for the first time and I loved it!  I wanted to watch it just because it was a part of the Harry Potter universe and not super excited about it – thinking it would just be about him finding magical animals. I was pleasantly surprised at the story, the magic, and the continuation of this world that I love. I honestly can’t wait for the second!

(I’m going to try super hard not to give out any spoilers so everyone has a chance to enjoy the movie like I did!)

Newt Scamander is an adorable wizard from England who has found his way to America for some reason (real reason has been redacted to prevent spoilers).  His mission is to educate the magical community about why they should help protect these creatures that he loves.

He is similar to the Hagrid character we’ve known and loved for years. (Actually, if you’re not familiar with the HP world, these Fantastic Beasts movies come first in the Harry Potter timeline so Hagrid’s love of magical creatures came from Newt’s work).

Newt has a case full of magical creatures, all being taken care of in a natural-ish environment that he created.  He loves all these animals, big or small, sweet or scary.  There is one point where his case gets taken away from him (not a spoiler it’s pretty obvious) and he yells over and over not to hurt them and that “they’re not dangerous”.

There was one scene with food but I think it was soup and I don’t remember what kind. However, due to his love of these creatures (all of them) I would like to think that Newt is a vegan.

The only reason I’m not 100% sure is because of his case of creatures. To me, it seemed kind of like a zoo environment.  We don’t know how he happened upon these animals.  He could have rescued them and is working on rehabilitation. Or maybe he is working on getting them REDACTED. (See? Doing good at keeping spoilers at bay!)

I’m going to go with the rescue and rehab part and that’s why I think Newt Scamander is a vegan (at least I hope so).

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I Speak for the Bees

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Last week, floating around the internet, Cheerios created a new marketing campaign to help with their public image: #BringBacktheBees.  You enter your information on their website and they send you a pack of 500 wildflower seeds for you to plant to help the honey bee population. Sounds like a great idea right?

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According to the Cheerios website, 1 in 3 bites of food we eat is made possible by bees and 70 of the top 100 human food crops are pollinated by bees. That’s a lot of food for a lot of people.

Still sounds great on Cheerios right?

Let’s first take a look at the ingredients of plain old Cheerios:

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Whole grain oats, corn starch, sugar, salt, tripotassium phosphate, and vitamin E.

Now, visiting Whatsonmyfood.org lets look at what’s on those first two ingredients (that’s all we’re going to focus on in this post).

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Because Cheerios are conventionally grown that means pesticides and herbicides are used during the growing of these ingredients.  Of the pesticides used on oats, three of them are known bee toxins, two high and one moderate. Ten of corn’s pesticides are known bee toxins – four high, three moderate, three low.

That means two ingredients of one product contain a combined 13 known bee toxins.  (I am ignoring the sugar because I don’t know if it’s regular white sugar or sugar beets, which is also listed as sugar).

These charts don’t talk about glyphosate which is a ‘Roundup herbicide’ that farmers spray on ‘crops such as wheat, oats, edible beans and other crops right before harvest’.  This is a probable carcinogen and ‘A growing body of research is documenting health concerns of glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor and that it kills beneficial gut bacteria, damages the DNA in human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells and is linked to birth defects and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.’ (You can read all about glyphosate in this great article: Why Is Glyphosate Sprayed on Crops Right Before Harvest?)

Supposedly, the reason they do this is to dry out the crops up to two weeks before original harvest date because of issues with moisture in certain areas where these crops are grown.

If these are possible side effects for humans, what about bees that, remember, Cheerios said ’70 of the top 100 human food crops are pollinated by bees’.  According to multiple studies sited in the article How Monsanto’s GMOs and glyphosate are killing off honeybees and leading to global ecological collapsehoneybees who have been exposed to glyphosate have a harder time navigating back to their hive, lost their ability to eat, suffered from a decreased ability to learn, sense of smell, and memories. “Disturbingly, the study also found that bees transport glyphosate back to the hive, thereby poisoning even non-foraging bees.”

It’s your practices, and the practices of your competitors and the creators of the pesticides/herbicides/GMOs, that caused this problem in the first place.

So Cheerios, while I thank you for not using genetically modified ingredients (apparently just in the ‘original’ flavor), providing people with 1.5 billion wildflower seeds (most likely GMO) is literally the least you could do to help the bees.

*If you want to do your part to help the bees and countless others, please purchase organic and non-GMO as often as you can. And maybe get your own wildflower seeds*

Please share this post to help get the word out!

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Vegan-versary

I have just recently had my 3 year anniversary of becoming a vegan (what I’ve coined my vegan-versary) and I wanted to share some words of wisdom.

Here are some things that I have learned in the past 3 years:

 

There will always be people who will ask you what you do/do not eat, no matter how often you see them

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There will always be people who will try to make you feel bad for not eating their food

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There will always be people who become nutritionists and have their opinion about how ‘unhealthy’ it is

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There will always be people who won’t attempt to make something for you or even ask you if there’s something they can make you

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There will always be people who will ‘forget’ that you eat differently than they do (also no matter how often you see them)

 

There will always be people who ask why

 

There will always be people who say they could never do that (or they could never give up (insert food here))

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There will always be people who will try to get you to slip up more than they will be supportive

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There will always be people who will say “let’s not invite them because I don’t know what they’ll eat” (yes sometimes even in your own family)

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There will always be people who say “so do you eat fish?”

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There will always be people who will ask you “where do you get your protein from?”

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There will always be people who make jokes because your life choices make them uncomfortable
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But if you’re lucky, like I am:

There will always be people who are totally supportive of you

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There will always be people who put an effort into trying new things

 

There will always be people who are excited to make a new recipe, just for you

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There will always be people who won’t treat you any differently than when you were an omnivore

 

There will always be people who understand that what you eat doesn’t make you who you are and will love you no matter what

 

 

Whether you’re currently a vegan, you’re looking to be a vegan, you’re a vegetarian, or an omnivore (even one with no intent on changing their diet), just keep doing what makes you happy and what resonates the best with you.  Be true to yourself.