Identifying your goal as an animal rights activist: Five tiers

Effective animal rights activism

Many animal rights activists and organizations don’t even have a specific goal in mind.  Just ask them!  Most will be able to articulate a strong feeling that something is wrong and a strong desire to fix it.  But many will not be able to describe what that fix is or how that fix actually gets done:-/  This lack of focus is holding back the movement in a big way, in my view.

Here’s a simple chart aimed at helping activists focus their work on a specific, concrete goal.

Effective animal rights activism | faunacide convention, abolition amendment, animal protection laws, corporate manumission, vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle and life choices
Effective animal rights activism | faunacide convention, abolition amendment, animal protection laws, corporate manumission, vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle and life choices

Victory at the first three levels will represent the climax of the current animal rights movement; thereafter, the movement’s focus will shift from law-making to law-enforcing.

The latter two tiers represent the means whereby demand for cruelty-based goods and services is eliminated; such elimination undermines the financial viability of cruelty-based activities, thereby setting up the conditions necessary for victory at the former three tiers. Pick your favorite tier, and make things happen!

#animalrights #animalliberation #vegan


(Original publication date:  Sept. 6, 2015 (FB))

Faunacide convention – 9/4/15 draft

Faunacide Convention | Sept. 4, 2015 draft

Here’s the September 4, 2015, draft of the Faunacide Convention. Having this language in place gives the international animal rights, protection, and liberation movement a very specific, well-defined target.

Faunacide Convention | Sept. 4, 2015 draft
Faunacide Convention | Sept. 4, 2015 draft

NOTES: The key substantive provisions appear in the first four articles. Although adhering closely to the text of the United Nations’ Genocide Convention (1948), this draft leaves institutional identification spaces blank so that any group of nations can agree to it, with or without the UN.  That said, bringing the Faunacide Convention into force through the UN will be ideal.

#faunacide #faunacideconvention #environment


(original pub date: Sept. 4, 2015 (FB))

Vega: Vegan Meals and Supplements from Sequel


A Little Culinary Confession

First, let’s make one thing clear:  I can’t cook.  I appreciate good food and truly admire folks who can bring together a fine meal (and sure do like to be invited to their houses—hint, hint!), but I am not such a person.  And that’s putting it mildly. . . .

This reality caused me a bit of concern when I first adopted a vegan diet.  My only motivation for going vegan was that veganism is the ethical choice.  But, like most people in our culture, my eating habits until that time had relied largely upon dead animals (i.e., meat) and animal-exploitation products (e.g., milk, butter and eggs).  Without any real cooking or food preparation skills and without being able to rely upon the same old menu, I remember pouring that last gallon of milk down the drain and thinking, “Wow, I sure I hope I’ll figure out a way to eat enough to survive.”

Surprise, Surprise

As it turns out, eating well—and eating better than I ever had before—has not been an issue.  A vegan diet—much to my surprise—turns out to be easier, safer and healthier than an animal-based diet.  And one company that is doing its part to make a vegan diet also a convenient diet is Sequel Naturals, which is based in Vancouver, BC, with U.S. offices in Blaine, WA.


Sequel produces a line of vegan convenience foods called Vega.  Formulated by Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, Vega offers a wide variety of ready-made vegan meals that come in forms such as an energy bar or a powder that can be mixed with water.  Here’s a quick guide.


Vega Whole Food Energy Bar

Sequel’s Vega Energy Bars condense a whole lot of nutrition into a small package.  The size of a standard candy bar, the Vega Energy Bar includes ten grams (10g) complete raw protein, six grams (6g) dietary fiber, and four-and-a-half grams (4.5.) of Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.  Available in chocolate, berry, and natural flavors, I have thoroughly enjoyed incorporating Vega Energy Bars into my diet as an easy way to get in a good meal while on the go.

My favorite is, of course, the chocolate Vega Energy Bar.  And, since it’s often hard to find any vegan chocolate items, I’ve particularly appreciated discovering Sequel’s chocolate offering as both a yummy and good-for-you way to get my chocolate fix.

Left:  My favorite super-model, Kitty Witty Bang-Bang, showed up at the shoot while I was photographing the Vega Energy Bar.  :-)

Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer

Sequel’s Vega powder is practically a feat of  food engineering.  Coming in a thirty gram (30g) serving that can be mixed with eight ounces of water to form a complete meal, the Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer blows away my previous expectations of what a convenience meal could be.  To wit, this supercharged supplement provides:

  • Calcium equivalent to five (5) cups of milk
  • Fiber equivalent to seven (7) slices of bread
  • Omega 3 equivalent to six (6) ounces of dead salmon flesh
  • Potassium equivalent to six (6) bananas
  • Iron equivalent to twenty-nine (29) ounces of dead cow flesh
  • and a whole lot more

Moreover, two packages of the Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer provide 100% of RDI of vitamins and minerals.   Such is  the power of a convenience food that has been extremely well designed.

Other Offerings

The Vega line from Sequel also includes the Vega Whole Food Vibrance Bar (Green Synergy, Chocolate Decadence, and Wholesome Original flavors), Vega Antioxidant EFA Oil Blend, and Vega Whole Food Smoothie Infusion.  All these products include the same kind of plant-based nutrition that makes the other Vega products special.

My recommendation:  a strong buy.  For more information, visit the Vega website from Sequel at

(Original article publication date:  August 18, 2009 (Cruelty-Free))

Artificial Meat, Real Change

Technology and Social Change

Technological breakthroughs can pave the way to major social changes—some good, some bad, some mixed. The internal combustion engine and other automobile advances, for instance, enabled numerous positive services, such as ambulances and fire engines. But the automobile also gave rise to city designs and lifestyle choices that are inefficient to the point of being almost bizarre, as in the now-common case of a freeway commuter who drives an hour or more—each way—to and from work.

In more recent years, the World Wide Web has again demonstrated that technological advances can precipitate fundamental changes in the ways that people work, play, shop, and socialize: the telecommuter is gradually replacing the freeway commuter, and MySpace and Facebook have emerged as primary ways to “hang out”.

The Impervious Dinner Plate

While computers and mobile electronics continue to revolutionize many other aspects of life, people’s eating habits have been very slow to change. Folks who ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, hamburger and fries for lunch, and pizza and beer for dinner 30 years ago are still eating those same items today. Aside from some packaging updates, the menus of restaurants that were in business 30 years ago, such as McDonald’s or Pizza Hut, remain little changed today.

Perhaps dietary habits are so deeply rooted in a person’s consciousness that they become a part of one’s identity. Certainly many community and religious events and holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, revolve around food. But whatever the reason, dietary choices have remained relatively impervious to the wave of change that has swept over many other personal choices in recent decades.

The Cost of Consistency

Unfortunately, the dominant eating habits of Western culture have proven to be wildly destructive at the environmental level. Meat, in particular, extracts a devastating toll, as it is a profoundly inefficient food item. Specifically, it generally takes approximately 10 to 25 times—that’s 2500% —more resources to produce a pound of meat than to produce a pound of vegetable food. After all, animals must either eat other animals or eat plants, whereas plants simply get their sustenance from the sun and the soil. Animals also require medicine, lodging and other upkeep, whereas plants are relatively very low maintenance. Finally, animals used for meat production expel a great deal of polluting gases, such as methane, whereas plants generally had an unequivocally beneficial effect on the environment.

The net effect of consistency in the dominant Western diet has therefore been highly negative. Indeed, many environmental scientists now consider meat to be the single most environmentally harmful modern lifestyle choice—yes, even worse than driving a gas guzzler.

And that’s not even to mention the well-documented health effects, from heart disease to obesity, of the Western and particularly American diet.

Meat Substitutes: a Good Start

Soy burgers and other vegetable-based meat substitutes (sometimes called “meat analogues”) have taken root in many households. Tofu has proven to be a sort of “miracle meat” in that it can take on so many flavors that even discriminating meat lovers can be fooled by tofu products masquerading as meat. These culinary advances have been applauded by environmentalists, nutritionists and animal rights activists alike.

But, while the personal health and environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet have been thoroughly demonstrated, whether meat substitutes can ever overtake the Whopper and the Quarter Pounder with Cheese remains to be seen.

Enter Artificial Meat

Perhaps meat substitutes do not have to replace real meat in order for many of the detrimental effects of meat production to be avoided. Scientists have now demonstrated the ability to produce actual meat—not a vegetable substitute—using cell cultures rather than cows, pigs, or sheep. Specifically, certain cell samples originally taken from an animal are then nourished and cultivated to proliferate into large quantities of such cells, thereby producing artificial meat (also “in vitro”, “synthetic” or “test tube” meat) that is at the cellular level essentially identical to meat that comes from the muscles of slaughtered animals.

Implications, Pro and Con

Many hurdles are yet to be overcome before artificial meat can fully replace slaughter-based meat. First, the in vitro technique is still too costly to compete with slaughter for meat production in the mass market. However, over time, these costs may come down, especially if a handful of early adopters are willing to pay a premium for cruelty-free meat.

Second, cell cultivation may not sound particularly appealing to a society that is accustomed to the use of farm animals to produce food. Test-tube meat may sound very “sci-fi”, mysterious, and perhaps even dangerous to the average consumer. Of course, such a perception is just that, a perception, and can probably be changed when met head-on with informational measures, such as those suggested by M. Renee Orth in her article on legislation for public surveillance of the slaughter industry.

Third, even in vitro meat is likely to prove highly wasteful of resources compared to vegetable food. While not as wasteful as traditional meat production, the new technique will still have significant, inherent overhead costs, and the conversion of organic material to meat will probably always be less efficient than a food production system that requires no such conversion.

Fourth, to the degree that synthetic meat fully replicates slaughter-produced meat, the massive health benefits of a vegetarian diet are lost.

Fifth, purists in the fields of environmentalism and animal rights activism may view artificial meat as a way of actually prolonging the meat addiction of modern culture and thereby undermining efforts to bring about true sustainability and cruelty-free living. Under this view, switching from slaughter-based meat to artificial meat is the equivalent of switching an alcoholic from wine to beer. However, if artificial meat does in fact significantly reduce the demand for slaughter-based meat, the purist argument will probably fail, at least in the animal rights field. Net environmental impact will be more difficult to resolve.

Opportunity for Long-Overdue Dietary Shifts

Notwithstanding the above reasons for caution, artificial meat has at least the potential to be a disruptive technology, one that could bring about fundamental changes in a sphere that has heretofore remained relatively impervious to change: what’s for dinner. Executed properly, artificial meat production could (i) dramatically curtail the practice of animal slaughter and thereby (ii) bring about a significant reduction of the environmental harms inherent in raising animals for slaughter. These two effects make the technology highly desirable and worthy of pursuit.

(Original pub date:  March 30th, 2009 (Cruelty-Free))