In a positive step for animal welfare, the UK government has announced its plans to ban the live exportation of animals for both slaughter and fattening from England and Wales. Although this motion is long overdue, it will make England and Wales the first European countries to implement this change. Progression may be slow - and the banning of live exports doesn’t begin to absolve the UK of its diabolical history of animal agriculture - but we must celebrate the small wins when they arrive.
The eight-week-long proceedings needed to discuss the ban began on 3rd December 2020, and it is hoped that the ban will come into place officially by the end of 2021. Although a ban with immediate effect would be the ideal scenario, it is highly encouraging to see the UK government act quickly to prioritise animal welfare ahead of the Brexit transition. There is still a lot of work to be done, but this is a positive change nonetheless.
By prohibiting the live exportation of animals from England and Wales, the UK government will ban agricultural transporters from shipping animals such as pigs, cows and sheep long distances for slaughter and fattening. These journeys are nothing short of barbaric, with hauliers cramming hundreds of animals into dirty and cramped shipping and lorry containers.
Treated as cargo, not as living beings, animals are forced to stand for hours at a time without food, rest or water. Travelling through hot climates is not only unbearable but often deadly, with many animals dying from heat, thirst and respiratory-related illnesses.
Many animals don’t survive the journey, either because of their conditions or as a result of road collisions and accidents at sea. One particularly harrowing case saw 6000 cows drown after the ship carrying them capsized off the coast of Japan in September of this year.
The Government’s official statement regarding the new legislation was released by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) earlier this month, and claims that the banning of long-distance live exports is part of a continued push to position the UK as “a world leader on animal welfare.” We can only hope that the UK continues to push for animal protection laws to benefit all species affected by the inhumane practices of the animal agriculture and transportation industries.
Banning live exports is something Prime Minister Boris Johnson has publicly expressed his desire to act on since 2017, citing the EU’s strict free movement laws as the reason behind the UK’s failure to do so. However, with the Brexit transition moving closer, Johnson and Environment Secretary George Eustice have unveiled their commitment to reigniting this issue.
Currently, only England and Wales have pledged to prohibit the exportation of live animals for slaughter and fattening. Frustratingly, Scotland has not yet committed to making the change for good, and under the Northern Ireland Protocol, Northern Ireland is still bound to the EU legislation governing the exportation of animals for slaughter.
To avoid falling behind on animal welfare issues, Scotland - which transported more than 5000 unweaned male calves in 2017 alone - must evaluate its stance on live exportation. Scotland has a disturbing history of transporting calves as young as three weeks old to mainland Europe, often to Catalonia, with some journeys taking up to six days in total. This is a cruel fate for babies that are not yet old enough to be separated from their mothers.
Despite EU laws governing the transportation of live animals, hauliers regularly break rules to make their journeys quicker, more efficient and more economical - at the expense of animal welfare. By banning the live exportation of animals from England and Wales for slaughter and fattening, we hope the Government will set a precedent that forces other European countries to follow suit.
The news of the ban has been well-received by animal rights and environmental campaigner groups, with Chris Sherwood of the RSPCA calling it “a landmark achievement for animal welfare.”
While the new ban is an exciting first step, the Government must not stop evaluating its approach to animal welfare and the inhumanity of live exports. Currently, the ban does not include the exportation of poultry or the transportation of animals for breeding purposes.
If Eustice is serious in his claim that the UK is “committed to improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life,” then the Government must propose a more comprehensive ban that truly seeks to liberate live animals from undergoing such tortuous journeys.
Could Veganuary 2021 be our Stepping Stone to a Vegan Future?
For many Vegans and plant-based eaters, January has now become synonymous with Veganuary - the month-long pledge that saw 400,000 people sign up to adopt a Vegan diet during the first month of 2020. Veganuary, which encourages people to give up meat, fish (including shellfish), dairy, milk and insect-derived ingredients (such as honey) for a month, first launched in 2014 and has since become a global campaign spanning almost 200 countries.
This year, Veganuary has the public support of many well-known plant-based eaters and campaigners who have backed an open letter highlighting the environmental benefits of adopting a Vegan diet and the need to do so following the Covid-19 pandemic. The letter, which has been signed by Paul McCartney, Jane Goodall and Johnny Marr (amongst many other public figures), hopes to encourage thousands of people to ditch animal products for at least the first 31 days of the year.
Of course, there’s no doubt that Veganism is about more than just signing up to an online pledge and giving up meat for a month. It’s a lifestyle that requires dedication and passion to the cause - whether animal welfare concerns, environmental worries or health objectives are driving you to make the change. There’s also more to Veganism than making animal-friendly dietary choices, which is something the conversation around Veganuary often forgets.
Nevertheless, we cannot deny that Veganuary has played a crucial role in catapulting Veganism into the mainstream. What once appeared inaccessible to many people now seems as simple as inputting your details into a brightly-coloured website and checking out what Vegan products have hit the shelves in your local supermarket. The pledge plays on our desire to ‘do good’ in January by promoting a tangible call to action - with hugely encouraging results. Ahead of Veganuary 2020, the charity predicted that the month-long pledge could save over one million animals, which is something every animal lover can celebrate.
Clearly, Veganuary does encourage people to make an active change to their diet and lifestyle. It offers an incentive for people to dip their toes into the plant-based pool for just 31 days; a period short enough to seem doable to even the most stubborn of meat-eaters, yet long enough to prove that cutting out meat, eggs and dairy offers a significant number of benefits. Following Veganuary 2018, 62% of participants planned to remain Vegan after the month-long trial, and while we don’t know how many stuck to their intentions, it’s positive to see such a shift in public opinion.
We can also credit Veganuary for inspiring the recent surge in plant-based products. According to Veganuary’s website, 1200 new products and menus were released to entice plant-based eaters and meat reducers ahead of 2020, and this is not likely to slow down in January. It’s already been reported that Co-op, Domino’s, Krispy Kreme, Chicago Town, Subway and Hellmann’s will be releasing new products in early 2021, in addition to well-known vegetarian brands such as Quorn. The Vegan lifestyle has certainly piqued public interest over the last few years, and with the rise in consumer demand comes a steady flow of food manufacturers and restaurants who want to see what all the fuss is about. Finally, Vegans might be able to order more than just salads and bean burgers when dining out!
Understandably, many people have mixed feelings about the rise of non-Vegan companies taking advantage of Vegan consumers. As much as Veganuary inspires kinder food choices, it’s also a prime marketing opportunity for brands and manufacturers - even those that have historically ignored Vegan consumers. And, whenever companies jump on what they perceive to be nothing more than a gap in the market without educating themselves on the importance of the movement, there’s a fallout.
Consider the case of Burger King’s Rebel Whopper. It was released to coincide with Veganuary, described as a ‘plant-based patty’ and advertised using the Vegetarian Butcher’s logo - but was found to be unsuitable for both Vegans and vegetarians. Unsurprisingly, Burger King’s greenwashed marketing couldn’t disguise how little the brand - one that has consistently been criticised for its “very poor” animal welfare standards - cares about Vegans and their cause.
Nonetheless, we must look at the positives. We may be feeling increasingly resentful towards the corporations profiting from Veganism while doing the bare minimum to reduce animal suffering within their supply chains, but maybe it’s time to recognise this period for what it is: a stepping stone towards a kinder and more compassionate future. Let’s hope Veganuary can help us speed up the process.
Is Greenwashing Vegan Exploitation or a Necessary Evil?
Earlier this year, it was reported that Cadbury - one of Britain’s oldest chocolate manufacturers - is planning to release a Vegan alternative to its classic Dairy Milk chocolate bar. The company, which has consistently marketed its Dairy Milk bar using the ‘glass and a half of milk’ tagline, is now taking its first steps into plant-based markets.
Although Cadbury hasn’t officially announced the release of its Vegan Dairy Milk, the popular Instagram page Vegan Food UK posted screenshots of the bar featuring on Tesco’s website just last week. If the Instagram comments from excited consumers - and the success of the Vegan Galaxy range, which was released in the UK this time last year - are anything to go by, we can expect the plant-based Dairy Milk to be hugely popular.
So, why does this news leave a sour taste in our mouths?
Perhaps it’s because Cadbury is just another big-name brand capitalising on the growing Vegan market while continuing to exploit animals on an unimaginable scale. When companies like Cadbury put profit over compassion, it’s difficult not to remain sceptical about their motives. The manufacturer’s move towards plant-based products is just another example of greenwashing - something Vegans are quickly becoming prime targets for.
Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Cadbury’s commitment to exploiting cows while creating a wholesome, happy farmyard image is nothing new. In 2017, the manufacturer established an ‘Adopt a Cow’ initiative, allowing customers to support (or at least, pretend to support) one of the British cows milked for its Dairy Milk Buttons line. This comes after a 2016 article claiming that Cadbury requires 150 million litres of fresh milk to produce the chocolate products lining UK shelves - at the expense of 23,000 cows.
Cadbury isn’t the only brand hiding its sinister practices behind family-friendly marketing. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen an influx of restaurants offering plant-based alternatives to the most popular items on their menu - despite their business models relying on the mass slaughter of chickens, pigs, cows and fish. KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s and Nando’s are amongst the companies that have brought out plant-based meals in the last two years, co-opting the Vegan movement while murdering thousands of animals and feigning concern for their welfare.
There’s an obvious moral conundrum to consider here. Of course, watching the once ‘unusual’ Vegan movement fly into the mainstream is hugely encouraging. Veganism no longer feels as inaccessible as it once did; people can now transition to an animal-free lifestyle while still enjoying familiar comforts such as pub lunches and post-night-out takeaways.
Today, it is also much easier to find Vegan recipes for your favourite dishes and desserts, using plant-based substitutions - such as dairy-free butter from Flora - in place of essential animal ingredients. With so many well-known restaurants and household food brands (including Birds Eye and Richmond Sausages) lining supermarket shelves, the ‘inconvenience’ excuse has also been swept out from underneath even the most stubborn of meat-eaters’ feet.
However, we can’t shake the feeling that Vegans are being taken advantage of. Big-name brands are using insidious greenwashing tactics to pocket the plant pound without aligning their brand values with those of the Vegan community. We can see this clearly in every sector; from the food industry to fashion and beauty, greenwashing is everywhere. The rise in people following a Vegan lifestyle has simply highlighted a gap in the market for money-grabbing companies to capitalise on.
Greenwashing is what allows Nando’s to position its plant-based wrap as part of its fight against climate change - despite the fact its “very poor” chicken welfare sees thousands of soya-fed birds growing so quickly that they develop deformities. It’s what allows Greggs to benefit from a 58% profit increase following the release of its Vegan sausage roll, without needing to remove its original from the shelves. It’s also what allows shoe manufacturers like Adidas to launch a line of ‘sustainable’ Vegan trainers while continuing to sell leather and suede to the masses.
Large corporations cashing in on the steady rise of Veganism aren’t likely to stop any time soon. With marketing opportunities like Veganuary offering an easy, profitable way to attract the plant-based vote, we can expect many manufacturers to jump on the bandwagon. We can’t stop this - and maybe we shouldn’t try. Perhaps, despite its flaws, this is the only way we can convince society to embrace Veganism.
Nevertheless, we should always put our money where our mouths are and support 100% Vegan businesses where we can. There are so many fantastic companies selling Vegan-friendly products (check out our Vegan Directory for all the inspiration you need!) that making cruelty-free consumer choices has never been easier. And, guess what? Truly sustainable companies don’t need to greenwash their marketing.
Global Vegans Welcomes the Age of Aquarius and a Transformative Era for Veganism
After what can only be described as a demanding and somewhat relentless year, it’s no surprise that so many people are clinging on to the hope that 2021 will bring stability and positive change.
Late December is often a time of reflection, but the unique nature of 2020 makes our transition into the new year even more significant than usual.
For much of this year, people have looked to the universe for guidance. Today, we can look specifically at the planets, as the 2020 Winter Solstice coincides with Saturn and Jupiter’s move into Aquarius. As Saturn and Jupiter conjunct for the first time in 20 years, the best in 800 years, we welcome the Age of Aquarius - a transformative era that will encourage us to focus on our spiritual and emotional wellbeing and open our minds to new possibilities. This astronomical event, known as a Great Conjunction, could shift our approach to social equality, including animal welfare, as we move away from traditional structures and adopt a more community-centric approach.
Moving into the Age of Aquarius won’t make an impact overnight. It will, however, guide us as we each adopt a higher level of consciousness and develop deeper connections with the universe. This era of change will not only question the way we care for ourselves, but also affect how we exist within our communities. Saturn and Jupiter will remain in the fixed air sign Aquarius for the majority of 2021, opening up new opportunities to reject the materialistic, conservative age we’ve been governed by and embrace a more progressive approach to society.
It’s impossible to visualise how the world might change over the next year without considering our treatment of animals. As Saturn - the planet of change - and Jupiter - the planet of hard work and activism - move away from the rigidity and oppressiveness of Capricorn into the more free-spirited Aquarius, we hope society will open its mind to the many benefits of Veganism. It will take work and dedication, but if we can use the next year to educate and expand our minds to the possibility of a more harmonious world, 2021 could be the year we see positive results.
As Vegans, we should use this to our advantage. As the new dawn encourages society to consider more progressive ways of living, we must offer a kinder and more compassionate alternative to the current system: an animal-free lifestyle. With Saturn and Jupiter under Aquarius, hard work will reap meaningful rewards - so let’s dedicate time and energy to the fight against animal exploitation.
By enlightening others, we can highlight the ethical issues that deserve our attention in 2021. Of course, this includes the liberation of animals from the inhumane systems that perpetuate and rely on intense suffering. This year has been about identifying the need for change, but the new year will be about making change happen with education and protest.
This need to connect and communicate will also see us develop a greater appreciation for community. Vegans across the globe should embrace this by supporting and promoting dedicated Vegan companies. It’s time to move away from the large corporations that take advantage of plant-based consumers and celebrate cruelty-free businesses that allow communities to thrive.
Moving into a new era may also encourage us to view our psychological wellbeing through a new lens. The events of 2020 - namely, the Covid-19 pandemic and its fallout - have demonstrated the importance of paying closer attention to both our mental and physiological health. The arrival of a new year and a new era is a sign of hope for many, and we should use this time to take a more holistic approach to our health and wellbeing. This means more than just using the ‘self-care’ buzzword; it means enacting real change to bring peace to ourselves and those around us. After an arduous 2020, we deserve it!
This period of education, growth and activism will benefit us all. The next year has the potential to be a transformative time for the Vegan movement in particular, as we leave behind stubborn, outdated perspectives and move further towards a fairer, more equal society. A greater appreciation for the communities we exist within will also help us leave behind some of the most challenging aspects of 2020, including the health anxiety and feelings of isolation spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic.
At Global Vegans, we’re excited to see what the Age of Aquarius brings. Here’s to a new year and a new era!
Advert; If the age of Aquarius resonates with you and/or you feel in the need for an emotional boost then please read on .... this is a product we believe in so we are paying it forward and helping a Vegan who is trying to help others......
Hope all is well with you all. As we (finally) begin to turn the page on 2020 we all could use some true, sustained happiness and to work on our personal growth and enlightenment.
To help guide us on that path, celebrity hypnotherapist and spiritual teacher Cynthia Morgan has the announced the debut of her new app, HappiSeek, on December 21st. Cynthia’s techniques have proven to be highly successful in transforming the lives of thousands, including many of Hollywood’s elite. She also runs Desert Reset, a 100% plant-based spiritual retreat located in beautiful Joshua Tree, California.
The HappiSeek app leads seekers through a series of ten “doors” which correspond to the ten characteristics of an enlightened person.
Trust Honesty Tolerance Gentleness Joy Defenselessness Generosity Patience Faithfulness Open-mindedness
The confusion and fear caused by the pandemic has led to a huge rise in meditation and enlightenment apps. What sets HappiSeek apart from ones such as Calm or Headspace is that Cynthia’s hypnotherapy techniques guide each seeker on a personalized journey of self-discovery, greater enlightenment and, yes, sustained happiness.
The app’s debut on December 21st coincides with The Great Conjunction, a day where stargazers will be able to see Jupiter and Saturn appearing to merge and form a four-pointed star. Astrologists, spiritualists and mystics also believe this convergence ushers in a new era of enlightenment, one that fosters freedom, acceptance, medical and scientific progress and new advancements in connectivity through technology and spirituality.
Available for both iOS and Android, the app can be purchased for $29.99 per month for the first 12 months or $199.99 for a yearly subscription. There is a lifetime pricing offering of $399. Those who wish to experience the app can sign up for a free introductory hypnotherapy session.