ethics

Day 105: Ethical Bodies / The Body Shop

It’s interesting how marketing works. I for one have always wondered at it’s marvels. It entertains, it informs, it moves you at your core, it changes your mood, makes your decisions by telling you whats cool and whats appropriate. It tells you who the company is and what it stands for. It often lies.

The Body Shop. Known for it’s ethical practice of not using animal testing. The brand has grown very strong piggy-backing off the belief that buying the body shop products is a step forward for animal rights. Did you know that they use lanolin in their products? The sheep possibly aren’t too happy with that. The brushes they sell are made of animal hair. so in other words, their pro animals stance is a bit of a lie. The glossy “we ❤ animals” brand got a little muddier when The Body Shop was bought out by animal testing, dead animal using company L’oreal (which they apparently don’t do anymore). Consumers seem to be wising up.

Thankfully, no woman ever actually uses this stuff – it’s just the stuff we buy each other when we have no idea what else to get. Guess it’s time to start getting a  bit more creative with the gift giving. Anyone for flowers? Maybe some chocolate? I hear Dusk has some nice candles? (I’m a feminist!).

If you’re definitely in the mood for some body products, Lush appear to have the upper hand. Their stock is animal cruelty free, it’s predominately vegan with some vegetarian options, the products have double features (clean the skin, cleans the face, wash the hair, remove dead skin cells, any combo of these and other things), and the vibe is generally nicer there. Their products smell nicer. Just sayin’.

Shame that when buying products we have to do lots of research before buying. First you have their ingredients – is it animal, how they source it, was it ethically produced, is it good for you to use? Then you have their corporate ethics – do they pay staff, do they hire locally, do they follow the law? So many questions to ask that by the time you ask them all you have to wonder is it even possible to live a completely ethical life? Can a consumer purchase every need and some wants without transgressing some form of ethical boundary? We live in a world where to own a mobile phone is to support slave labour and unsafe work practices in third world countries and for jobs to be shipped overseas. How do we navigate this maze of lies and propaganda? The best I can figure out is determine the best strategy for each issue. In some cases, boycotting is practical and effective – people can get their body products from somewhere else so avoiding this company for animal ethical ones would make a point to the industry at large. However no-one can avoid having a mobile phone. Which means sometimes you cannot say that someone supports a bad thing because they own a product that has done bad things. Each ethical dilemma has it’s own solution.

Anyhwo that is my rant for the day. Feel free to fill me in on what your solution would be to fix the ethical dilemmas of the world in the comments below.

To feeling lush,

Summer Tay

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Day 102: Blackfish

After many months of knowing about this documentary and hearing of it’s amazing eye opening cannot look awayness I have finally got around to watching the doco known as Blackfish. For those who live under a rock, Blackfish is a doco about Orca whales, focusing on those kept in captivity. The main location is Seaworld, Orlanda USA but also includes other locations, countries and companies. The big question in the movie is why did the Orca Tilikum kill his trainer?

It’s like taking a Chinese man who speaks only Chinese and an American woman who speaks only English, then torturing them, starving them, using twisated logic of blame sharing and cruel and unusual punishments, playing sick mind games with them to the point they even turn on each other and kill their own. Forcing them to play tricks at the sound of a whistle or a flick of the hand, just to recieve the bear necessities of life.

The whales come from all different areas of the globe. They have different languages and so would not be able to understand each other and communicate. They come from different family and community backgrounds, which means they have never seen the other whales before they are placed with them and have limited to no friendship with the others they are surrounded by. They are a large animal kept in a tiny enclosure. They are used to having an entire community of whales around them and the entire ocean at their dorsal fin. Instead they have a tiny enclosure, with random others who speak not their language, stuck within the small confides being unable to break away and get space when emotional.

when they took away a mother Orcas baby, she cried for so long, calling deep cries that in the ocean would have spread as far as a whales pitch could, searching for her baby. The other female whales tried to console every few hours, but quickly ran (swam) away again. Noone had ever heard the whale make much noise at all, let alone anything like the noise she made when they took her baby away. Her greif was clear and peircing through the video footage.

Imagine being stuck in a broom closet, with a person from the other side of the globe, unable to speak each others languages, and you find you guys don’t particularly like each other. You’re both being tortured and underfed daily and the only meal is the same thing every single day. And you only get fed if you do exactly as they say. The two of you are pitted against each other every day for training, making you despise each other even more. When you have a baby, they do the same to the child, for a while. Then they steal it from you and sell it.

As for the trainers, they have their own story. Almost all of them are picked very young, around 19 years old. Always beautiful and friendly. Always very naive and trusting of the company. Always uneducated and oblivious to the actual life of a non-captive orca.They don’t know that Orcas live much the same life span as a human at 60 to 100 years old – int the wild. In captivity it’s 25-35 years. Trainers are taught to say that is how long they live in the wild. In the wild less than 1% of the orca population experience a curving of their fin. In captivity all of them do. The trainers are taught to say that 25% of wild orcas experience it. And the trainers believe all of this, because as far as their youthful and trusting ways are concerned why would Seaworld lie? 

There is something else the trainers don’t know. Every time a trainer has been injured or lost their life doing their job around the animal, there has always been a perfectly good and reasonable explination. Trainer error. An accident occurred. When you’re fresh to the job you genuinely believe that this is how the person whose job your taking had passed away. It’s your first day on the job of a billion childrens dreams, you’re not asking questions. You’re just so happy to be here. It’s when you’ve settled in that you quickly realise these aren’t really your friends. Friends don’t lunge out of the pool and try to kill you. It doesn’t take long for it to happen to them or a coworker. The orca lunges out, grabs a trainer by the arm or foot or, possibly, the ponytail, drags the person under the water and doesn’t let go. The trainer dies. The theme park calls it ‘trainer error’. The other trainers know damn well that it wasn’t. The theme park lied.

Trainers are getting seriously injured and killed. Orcas are getting tortured and killed.Seaworld is fighting to keep things this way. They don’t want safety precautions. They don’t want animal rights. They don’t want to have to give accurate information to the public or to their own staff. And if you think like dear Bindi Irwin does that Seaworld a) takes care of the animals and b) provides accurate information in regards to animals to inform and entertain the public, then I’m sorry you’re wrong. I really am.

These animals are dangerous only in captivity. In the wild, they love humans and want to be our friends. Except when we’re chasing them down and stealing their babies in front of them, cutting open the ones that die from the process, filling them with lead and dropping their carcass back in to sink to the bottom of the ocean.

I’m sorry this post was a little late, but I had much to say. I too am now boycotting Seaworld. If you haven’t seen Blackfish, you should really watch Blackfish. I swear you won’t regret it.

Summer Tay.

Day 61: Doing Ones Duty

People who say they eat meat because God gave them the duty of care and dominion over the animals. My heads translator:  “god told man to take care of the animals, so that is what we do, we take care of them. With a hatchet”.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but if you gave me duty of care for your cat, and I ate it, wouldn’t you be a bit miffed? Somehow I think some people got confused between the meaning of care and the meaning of kill – they are actually very different words, with very different meanings, despite their similar sounds and role of the tongue to make.
                                                                                     

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Coincidentally, I have also heard the duty of care and dominion excuse before. Once upon a time, man believed he had a right as the carer of and a person with dominion over his wife to do pretty much anything he wanted to her. She had no legal rights or recourse to stop or punish a man for much of what he did. Society had no problem with this and agreed beating your wife is what must be done – such beings being so emotional and incapable of maturity and all (to name one of the things done in the name of DoC+d logic). There are people who believe this is the way it should be to this day. When I look at animals now, I think of women back then, and when I hear this excuse, I think of men back then. It’s a bitter-sweet look, as it was horrible back then, but here we are now, and if we keep up the good (read: progressive) work, I know where we and animals will be. One day. I suspect not just the women liberation movement (aka acknowledging women as humans movement), but many different people will have something in their culture that can directly relate to this concept of DoC meaning do what you want, and how they consider this to be wrong. The comparison of women and cows/animals is not to suggest women are cows just that the plights have similar aspects. Now that I think about it, it kinda seems cattle is what we women were considered back in the day. But I digress…

What I put to anyone who uses this logic is this: imagine you are the cow. I mean literally, imagine all the things that a cow is when humans aren’t around (intelligent, happy, just chillin’), research if you have to, but then be the cow. What is the mans duty of care, as someone who has dominion over you, to you? What should his caring dominion constitute? What actions and decisions should this person make and not make in regards to you – at all times factoring in he has this duty of care for you and his dominion over you?

And I mean be the cow.

Mooo,

Summer Tay.

P.S. I also hope I made it clear that one of my points here is just because you can get away with it, even if society and the law are completely supportive of your actions at this time, it still doesn’t mean that it is right. We did not go from a society where beating a woman is ok to a society where it isn’t ok – we went from a society that ignored that it wasn’t ok and made excuses to one that acknowledged that beating a woman is not ok and then made laws to stop it and social campaigns to stamp out the mentality. That is where I see this meat eating society going.

P.S.S. Click this link only if you have a sense of humour and are firmly strapped into your chair, because I fell off mine when I randomly came upon this picture within my google image search. Fair warning.

Day 58: Fortified Foods Versus Nutrient Supplementation (and the longest comment response in history)

The questions to be addressed today are:
1. To fortify foods, or to not fortify foods?
2. Fortified foods Versus Supplements?
3. What is fortification of foods anyways?

Fortified foods are foods that have vitamins and minerals added to them that are not normally present otherwise, for example vitamin B12 in coke. Similar to this is enriched foods, where foods are given an amount of a vitamin or mineral already present in the food. This is done to restore vitamin and mineral levels of a food after it has been processed/altered in any way. An example of this is vitamin C enriched orange juice.

Are fortified foods healthy?

If a food is unhealthy pre-fortification, then it is still unhealthy post fortification. The added nutrients may or may not make a difference to the bodies nutrient levels depending on several variables.

Variable 1: The ‘carrier’ or original item (lets say, coke) carrying the nutrient (VitB12) is not a food item that works in conjunction with VitB12 therefor the effect on your bodies level of this vitamin after drinking it is likely minimal none. However, in a carrier that has some nutritional value, fortification can be successful, for example dairy. Not the healthiest option, but if you gorge enough on it you’ll get some calcium. Fortify dairy with Vitamin D and the calcium will be absorbed faster and more effectively. Though it still doesn’t beat getting it from natural sources.
So in other words part of the effectiveness of the fortification depends on the fortified item – does it have a ‘supportive’ relationship or an ‘I’ll tolerate you’ relationship with the nutritional addition?
Another way to look at it: red Bull advertises it includes Vitamin B12 – a much sought after vitamin by many people, but especially vegans. Should we start drinking red bull as a daily health tonic for nutritional sustenance? I think not.

Variable 2: The fortifying nutrient – which version is being used? Consider Vitamin B12; Methylcobalamin is the healthier and less used version of Vitamin B12, versus Cyancobalamin, the more common yet less effective source. Hydroxocobalamin also exists, but doesn’t appear to get used much if ever. Packaging of fortified foods will often tell you the vitamin added but not the specific type thereof, and this difference can make all the difference in effectiveness of the product as a carrier.

 

So does this mean fortified foods are bad? No… not exactly.

Fortification has had positive effects. One of the first instances of this dates back to the World Wars and fortifying bread with commonly deficient nutrients and was regarded as highly successful. A more recent, Australian-Aboriginal example would be the addition of iron, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin to bread in the Bourke region (New South Wales). The fortification was successful in helping the people in the area improve their levels of those specific nutrients. The process was stopped after it was given media attention and a subsequent negative backlash, the latter being displeasing to the bakery owner who consented to fortifying his bread. According to the article, the critics gave what appear to be generalistic conjecture that did not do the study justice. Feel free to view the article for yourself here https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2006/184/12/repeating-history-objections-fortification-bread-and-alcohol-iron-filings-folic.

Governments world-wide have been looking to safely fortify different foods effectively to combat issues that have affected their regions of the globe. Considering what the critics mentioned in the article (risks including potential overdose on certain nutrients), and the implications and morality of fortifying foods, I personally feel it is important to keep a good eye on just what the government is doing in that area. For example fluoride in our drinking water. But I will save that for another post, on a day where I feel like a good, strong, anti-government (and also informative) rant.

Fortifying foods can be an amazing and beneficial thing when done right, but it can be dangerous when done incorrectly. Regulations for packaging and supplying sufficient information to consumers about the version of the nutrient involved I feel should be put in place. Following/in conjunction with this, more research and public accessible (and easy as pie to find) information should be available on the different ways of fortifying different foods, as well as the effectiveness of each items providing fortified nutrients. If each product were forced to prove via independent study that their nutrient fortified product actually increased a persons health and nutrient benefits there-of before being allowed to advertise it on their product, that would be great. Also, any unhealthy product which has been proven effectively fortified, should be obligated to have a disclaimer or similar reminding people that their product is not recommended as a main source of that nutrient and will not be sufficient in providing all of that nutrients needs, and is still a junk food. At least that’s my opinion.

Basically what I’m saying is that if an unhealthy product claims to have health benefits due to fortification, ignore it. Feel free to drink fortified with VitB12 diet coke of course if that is what you want, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s doing your body any good – it’s still is and will always be coke.

Now for the fun-cooker: provided the product/carrier is a healthy item, and the correct version of the nutrient has been added in a way that is safe and effective for the human body, then which is the better option for nutrient intake; Fortified foods, or supplements?

I’m going to go with, why be mutually exclusive? Each has their good and bad points.

Fortified pluses

  • The nutrient is compatible with the carrier food, there for is more readily absorbed by the body and more effectively.
  • You will not have to create a meal to eat with the nutrient, the nutrient is already in the meal.
  • On a grand scale, it is more effective in solving a deficiency problem of an entire section of people (like solving an iron deficiency of an entire country for example)

Fortified negatives

  • The packaging does not say which version of the nutrient being used
  • The product does not promise effectiveness of the nutrient, just the promise that the product itself has it in there.
  • Higher risk of overloading on the nutrient. The product does not have to specify the amount of the nutrient.
  • On a grand scale, can be used for unethical purposes. (fluoride, water, another time, another post).

My personal recommendation: If you have a specific deficiency, particularly if it has gotten quite bad, or if you simply could do with an extra hit of a particular nutrient then yes, fortified foods would be a great choice. Unfortunately it is a good idea to do research into the particular fortified product/s you wish to buy in order to ensure you get ones that will be effective and not have negative side effects or overload you on the nutrient.

In terms of it becoming a trend: provided the people maintain a vigilant eye on the government as they do it I think it is a great idea and would like to see more of it. Except for the fluoride in the water. We have not paid enough attention to that. But again, another time, another post, another rant.

As for supplements,

Positives:

  • You can monitor exactly how much of each supplement you are taking (how many grams).
  • More likely to notice if you haven’t kept up with a particular vitamin or mineral.
  • They are more highly regulated for safety and effectiveness.
  • More research is currently available to know what you’re getting yourself into and the potential side effects (whilst side effects of fortifying are still in theory and conjecture phase).

Negatives:

  • You could overdo your intake on them. Calcium and heart issues are a trending world concern currently.
  • You will have to eat something, otherwise it won’t work (or at least not very well), and you’ll feel ill.
  • They tend to come in round bottles that are easy to knock on the floor which then roll far, far away from you and you have to go chase them around the dining and living areas then bend over all embarrassed because everyone heard them hit the tiles and someone jokingly yells out “see, this is why we can’t have nice things!”.

Supplements are still fantastic, and for now I would personally advise for these to be used for general nutritional health assistance.

Well this was a very long blog. I have tried to minimise it as much as possible. I hope this has been enlightening and informative for you. If anyone knows more about fortified foods or have other examples (good or bad) of this, whether from the process used to the ethicalness of any part of the subject or anything in between, feel free to add any time. This topic is definitely by far under-researched and very interesting. The depth in health, global issues, global community and the ethics of all this. I look forward (I think) to seeing where this goes.

One thing I’d like to mention before signing off, other countries seemed hesitant to fortify raw foods, and as yet I haven;t come across proof that they have yet – except for Australia. Mushrooms have been fortified with vitamin D since Sept. 2010. This happened. I see no mention of this at the grocery store, and feel like it ought to be mentioned next to the price or something before purchasing. Is there a non-fortified version out there and can I buy that as easily? Is it really wise to, in a sense, force people to eat fortified foods? I hope it’s a good thing because I love my mushies.

Anywho, apologies again for the length of this blog. Thank you to the person who got me onto this topic, I hope this helps your own research on the subject/s.

To finally giving my hands and your eyes a break,

Summer Tay.

P.S. For further fortification study (particularly but not exclusively for the USA) try here: http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/CAT87209052/PDF

Day 52: Carnivore Quiz

Some say humans are carnivores. That we evolved to eat meat. If we did, then we would have the bodies of a carnivore. The speed, the internal organs, the jaw, and the ability (and desire only) to eat raw meat. We are the only species that eats meat cooked. We are physically incapable of eating raw meat – not without getting extremely sick, if not dieing. That after so many centuries of eating meat we still haven’t evolved into a raw meat eating species I personally feel proves that not only have we not evolved into a carnivorous species, but that we also never will. If you’re a believer in evolution (like me) you might say this means that eating meat would not be an evolutionary step forward for humanity, hence the not doing so. We just weren’t meant to eat it. We just like to, some of us. 

On my search for more fors and againsts I found a few comparison tables, the most informative I hope will appear below. If not I’ll add it as a link as I mutter expletives about a certain blog hosting site.

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In my surfing of the web I also came upon a rather adorable video, narrated by a very intelligent pig. He will explain how to tell if you are a carnivore. Anyone who doesn’t want to be bothered with graphs may prefer this version.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05zhL1YUd8Q&NR=1

Next time someone comes at you with the “we are meant to eat meat -it’s healthy, it’s natural, we evolved to eat meat”, show them these and explain how not healthy meat is, how as a species we have not devolved to eat meat, and how clearly not healthy it is for our bodies based on these things and so much more evidence being out there.

Really, if you choose to eat meat, fine. I’ll leave your diet alone if you leave mine alone. If you start the topic though, and you start with your carnivore logic, then you’ll get a lesson or two. If you really want to talk about the healthiness of veganism and carnivore diets, learn about it first. Don’t enter the conversation ignorant and then maybe you won’t feel so “judged” when I give you the facts I have that justify my diet. Or maybe, just maybe, your research will lead you to change your mind too and give up the meats and things. Of course if you’d rather stay ignorant, then fine, just don’t enter a serious conversation about diets and health if you are going to deliberately choose to remain ignorant. Oh yeah, and, hearing from someone who heard from someone that  some vegans lack fiber does not constitute being knowledgeable on the topic.

It’s amazing how quickly other people become experts in your health when you become vegan.

Well, that is my rant. So many more things I want to say, but it just comes out negative. Like why do people think that because we take note of our vitamin and mineral intake (and take supplements) that we are less healthy? Everyone should be doing that, it’s just more common among vegans and vegetarians, because we actually give more of a damn about it. And why act like we are preachy lecturery meanies when we try to tell you that your red meat is going to give you a heart attack? We’re trying to help. Heart attacks are not fun, and I know how to have you not go through one. Sigh.

Everyone treats me like different person now, yet I feel kinda the same, but it makes me wonder if I have changed, even though this decision seems like a natural one that I should take. Apparently I have already smashed through the amount of time several people thought I would last on the no meat no dairy issue (the 1 slip-up not being counted). The longest anyone has on it is 3 months. Thanks for the vote of confidence guys! I am so going to be better than that. This started out as just a health thing, but it’s become so much more. In case it hasn’t become obvious, I’m officially adding animal ethics to my reasons for doing this (hoorah!).

Ok now my rant is over. Thanks for reading!

Summer Tay.

Day 50: A Brief For And Against

Been looking at the arguments for and against veganism, as well as the vegetarian and raw vegan diets since they come up so often in searches. I would like to go into them in more depth one day, but I feel I have still not read enough on even one reason to be ready to write about it. Add to that I’d like to be fully prepared for all reasons pro and con before posting about any one of them. I have however found a youtube video that has different people of differing views combat a few of the reasons for and against the vegan diet. The video appears fairly amatuer, but it gets it’s point across. If you are considering the ethical, moral, health and environmental issues surrounding the meat industry and the vegan lifestyle, then this video is for you. Fair warning, there will be blood.

 

The woman in the video. “I used to love Boca Burgers [vegan patties], until I found out they were made from mushrooms…I threw them away”.

*Second warning, I do get a little coarse from here out*

Sometimes I think mandatory school excursions should include places like animal farms, dairy farms, agricultural areas, et cetera. If you wouldn’t feel comfy letting your 13 year old watch and listen as a small group of adults slowly kill an animal in a sadistic way, then maybe you shouldn’t feel comfy that they do that in the first place. Let the children learn where their food comes from and how it is made. Their shock and horror would end it all.

The sound of a pig squealing in pain then gargling to death on its own blood rings in my ears.

Summer Tay.