I’m dusting this here blog off for an announcement…
This is also my way of hoping you’ll all forgive me for being so slack in blogging and organising drinks nights… It’s all because my little brain has been busy plotting a big idea: Australia’s first Vegan Conference!
I love going to the Cruelty Free Festival and Vegan Expo. It’s good times, good food and a chance to catch up with people. But I’ve been craving opportunities for collaboration – a chance to get some of the brilliant vegan minds that exist in our community into a room to talk about what we can do as a movement.
This is all still very much a seedling of an idea, but I’d love to see speakers, panel discussions, workshops and interactive opportunities to really look at veganism from a whole variety of levels – animal activism, health, environmentalism, hell let’s get representatives from restaurants in to tell us how we can lobby for better vegan options, let’s look at campaigns that are working will within other movements, and the ways that veganism is going mainstream in the U.S. Let’s just all have a big ol’ campfire chat.
So there’s lots to work out still… like should this have more of a multi-day “camp” feeling which seems to be a trend amongst conferences these days or is that too big a commitment? When should we hold it? I’m pretty positive it’ll be in Sydney, so would you be willing to travel from elsewhere… And so on…
If you’d like to contribute your opinion you can take this here survey. Or as a replacement for this month’s Vegan Drinks let’s get together to discuss some ideas over beers. Friday May 27 I’ll be at The Courthouse Hotel in Newtown. Come swing by if you want to chat. Pretty informal. Hope to see you there!
Are Welfarists just Abolitionists who live in the real world?
February 24th, 2011 by Sharon
The Huffington Post recently published an article by Bruce Friedrich of PETA called “Why Animal Activists Should Support Incremental Reforms to Help Animals”. I’d suggest reading it through before reading the rest of this article, as he makes some excellent points. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Ok great. So, reading the comments on there, and the comments I got when I posted it on the vegaroo facebook page inspired me to write this article, which is something I’ve been wanting to write for a while as someone committed to vegan outreach, while also working as a campaigner for an animal welfare organisation.
I get a lot of flack from vegans for working on a welfare campaign and see a lot of mud flung in the direction of welfarists, and I’m here to add to Mr Friedrich’s arugment for why vegans should support all steps towards improving the lives of animals. To be clear I’m not telling anyone how they should focus their individual work and energy. We all have limited time and resources and should make the most of it. Rather, I’m saying it’s counterproductive to criticise those working on welfare reform.
To make real progress for animals we need people working on both. We need the abolitionist vegans who recognise that humans enslave animals for our benefit and work to educate people and move them towards a vegan lifestyle. But for every one person who recognises this enslavement, there are 99 who willfully ignore it, find justifications or excuses for it, or most likely just don’t care. Welfarists work to make sure that in the interim, while we wait for those other 99% to see the light, that the animals they’re consuming can at least lead better lives.
The cold hard reality is that the majority of people will tell you that they would “never go vegetarian” let alone vegan. I point to my parents as an example usually, to which someone replied “But they’ll die off eventually.” Callous, yes, but I see the point.
Abolitionists are not stupid of course, and none would say that this kind of “conversion” (though I hate to use a word linked to religion, I’m going to borrow it for the sake of analogy) is going to happen over night. It’s not going to happen in the lifetime of anyone reading this blog. It’s going to take decades of education, reaching out to people while they’re young, etc. I certainly agree with and support this approach. The downside to welfare campaigns, they argue, is that it makes people feel better about eating “happy meat.” But I would argue that this is a good thing.
You’re still moving people up the morality ladder. You’re getting them to acknowledge that animals don’t deserve to suffer extreme cruelty. Of course we wish they would all realise that no animal deserves ANY suffering. But the fact is that most people could not care less.
The campaign I work on is to end the live export of sheep. It’s regarded as one of the most shamefully awful animal practises in Australia and certainly easy to make the connection to slaves on ships, dying painful deaths and suffering awful slaughter. It’s going to take many years before we end this trade and even then these animals are still going to be turned into meat. They just won’t have to suffer an agonising month at sea first.
Getting people to care about this issue is one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my career. If we are going to spend years getting from point A to point B, how long will it take to get to point Z? In Australia, farmers are gods, and we are the #3 consumers of meat in the world. Moving the masses to veganism would require a major cultural change. Making people care just enough about the suffering of animals to pay an extra 10 cents for free-range eggs may seem like a teeny tiny baby step, but that’s because our task is monumental.
Working as a campaigner has taught me how slowly the government changes and how difficult it can be to sway attitudes. Many welfarists are abolitionists who just live in the real world. It’s easy to spout on about moral philosophy from behind a keyboard. I know that in order to affect change you sometimes have to make compromises. And when you tell people they have to do all or nothing, it’s a lot easier to do nothing.
When I posted that HuffPo article, one commenter asked me what I would do with $1 million if I had it to spend helping animals. Ever the realist I have to point out, I don’t have a million dollars. Nor do most organisations. There’s a reason why – there are simply not enough vegans to support organisations that can affect large-scale change. It’s not an issue you can fundraise on. But you know what you can fundraise on? PUPPIES! Which is why animal welfare organisations have more mainstream appeal.
Now I’m not saying that it’s not possible. I would love to see an organisation in Australia working on vegan campaigns. If anyone would like to give me a million dollars, that’s what I’d do. Rather than spending it in one go on a large campaign, I’d invest it into setting up a sustainable organisation that could continually work on vegan outreach.
But until a rich benefactor comes my way I’m going to continue working on welfare reform 40 hours a week, writing vegaroo and hosting vegan events in my spare time, and living a kickass vegan life that I hope inspires others.
Upcoming Vegan Events in February and March
February 17th, 2011 by Sharon
It’s summer! That means everyone, myself included has been out and about cooking up vegan barbecues, picnicing in the parks, and soaking up Vitamin D.
I haven’t even gotten a chance to update you on the last Vegan Drinks Nights, when BAM! There’s more upcoming events to tell you about!
Sydney’s event went great, raising $350 for Manly’s penguins!
Making a speech at the 4th Sydney Vegan Drinks!
Detials on our next event coming soon. And I’m so excited that melbourne’s first Vegan Drinks Night was a hit. From organiser, Carla:
“Held at the Sporting Club in Brunswick, they were very accomodating in creating a vegan menu and giving us drinks lists and suggestions of what alcohol was vegan so a huge thank you to them. We had over 35 people, raised $121.80 for the QLD RSPCA and got to meet many awesome new people! I look forward to the next drinks! Many thanks to everyones support.”
Hooray! Melbourne’s next vegan drinks night will be held on 25 March at 7:00 at Gasometer. More info here on their Facebook event.
Mark your diaries for these other upcoming vegan events!
This Sunday 20 Feb Vegan Society NSW is holding a Vegan Picnic in conjunction with the Mardi gras Fair Day. Their Facebook event is here. Did you also know that Vegan Society NSW is on Twitter now? Follow their updates here!
Speaking of Mardi Gras, don’t forget to come out and support the Queer Animal Lib NSW float in the Mardi Gras parade on Saturday 5 March. Guaranteed good times, and a chance to see me and some other vegaroo writers in yellow feathered tu-tu’s. Err… maybe leave the cameras at home though
That same morning, it’s the next Sydney Vegan Bake Sale! Funds are going to help the Queensland floods and it’ll be at the usual time and location: 8am – 1pm at the Newtown DIY Markets. More info on the Bake Sale blog.
And last but not least, on 19 March come on out for the launch of Kathy Divine’s new book Forever 21. It’s at 6:00 at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, Mitchell Theatre. Word on the street is there will be delicious vegan cakes! You can RSVP here on Facebook.
If you know of other upcoming vegan events around Australia you’d like to publicize, please drop me a line at email@example.com
Queer Animal Lib Calls for Sydney Mardi Gras Participants
February 4th, 2011 by Sharon
Members of Sydney’s LGBT or animal rights communities may recall the controversey in 2010 when Animal Liberation NSW was asked not to participate in the city’s annual Mardi Gras parade, after years of participation. The reason: not being gay enough.
Animal Lib in the 2007 Mardi Gras parade: Not gay enough
It’s pretty ridiculous when two groups fighting for social justice can’t see their overlapping goals and find ways to support each other. But alas, the decision was made. This year, journalist Katrina Fox formed a new group: Queer Animal Liberation NSW and its members will be rocking their float with pride!
Though a good sized group has been assembled so far (including yours truly), they’re still calling for more participants. Here’s what you need to know:
Mardi Gras takes place Saturday 5 March from 5pm to 11pm
Anyone can participate – queer or straight, male or female, or any shade of grey in betwee
If you’d like to participate there are also 2 work nights happening 23 and 24 Feb to work on building costumes, etc.
Participants are also being asked to give $12 each to cover production costs
This year’s theme is ‘We as queers agree, set the chickens free’. The aim is to highlight the plight of battery hens. All I know is, I better hear some “cock” based puns.
If you want to take part, please email Linda Stoner at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sentience: An Animal Art Exhibit in Perth
January 14th, 2011 by Sharon
Hey Perthlings, I’ve been informed of an art show opening this weekend called “Sentience: an exhibition on life.” Sentience is an initiative of Perth-based organisation Animal Rights Advocates Inc.
Here’s some more information.
ANIMAL SENTIENCE ON DISPLAY IN NORTHBRIDGE
16-21 JANUARY 2011, KURB GALLERY
Featuring work by a variety of international and Australian artists across a range of mediums, Sentience: an exhibition of life is a thought-provoking and ultimately rewarding display of art exploring the feeling, perception and individuality of animals other than humans.
The exhibition will be open for viewing from:
10am-6pm from Sunday 16 January to Friday 21 January, 2011,
at Kurb Gallery, 310 William Street, Perth, Western Australia.
**A special opening night event will run from 6pm-9pm on Sat 15 January.**
A sample piece from artist Yvette Watt
Artwork is available for purchase, with participating artists including:
• Alex Cearns
• Zaaron Crosby
• Sarah Davison
• Sharon Dawes
• Michelle Dawson
• Jasmeet Flora
• Gaye Godfrey-Nicholls
• Stephanie Ives
• Ramona Janssen
• Claude Jones
• Jo-Anne McArthur
• Ciara Moore
• Lottie Moore
• Yvette Watt
From the ARA press release:
“Sentience refers to self-awareness and the ability to experience a range of sensations and emotions, of feeling pain and suffering, and of experiencing a state of well being. Sentient animals are aware of their surroundings and of what happens to them.”
“Research is showing us that the lives of animals, including farmed animals, are much more complex than we previously understood. Research suggests that their social groupings, communication, feelings of pain, fear and anxiety, and the positive feelings of pleasure and play are vitally important to them.”
“It is these ideas of animal experience and personality that we wish to capture with the work of Sentience: an exhibition of life.”
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Queensland Flood Resources
January 13th, 2011 by Sharon
If there’s any good that can be drawn from the Queensland floods, it’s seeing the power of communites in action. Specifically I’ve seen Australians coming together across social media in a really huge way, posting resources for pet help, ways to donate, and just simple thoughts and prayers for everyone suffering through this ordeal.
I’d feel remiss if I didn’t help out in a small way myself, so here are a handfull of resources I’ve gathered form across my networks. It’s by no means complete and I’d encourage you to add to it in the comments.
I’m not quite sure how this website works, but you can use it to get news updates from specific areas, like Toowoomba.
Queensland Flood Pet Options has some resources on donations, hotlines, and how to contact Storage King who have been offering help. People have posted tips and more resources on their Facebook page.
The Queensland RSPCA are updating their site regularly with news and resources and has a form to report lost and found pets.
Dozens of groups are holding fundraisers, and there are far to many to list here, but again feel free to comment or get in touch with me if you’d like to advertise your group’s event. Rumour has it there’s going to be an emergency Sydney Vegan Bake Sale to raise fund. Stay tuned for details.
Lastly I’m struck today by the power of images to really capture the zeitgesit of an event.
This photo from the Herald Sun has been making the rounds over the last few days. In addition to now having a major crush on this dude (seriously, I vote Jon Hamm to play him in the forthcoming Queensland Flood film – y/n?), I also love the way it symbolises Aussie spirit.
Hope it helps to inspire and lift the spirits of those affected by this disaster.
We’re back… and we’re raising money!
January 10th, 2011 by Sharon
Happy New Year! I hope that you all enjoyed a festive and relaxing holiday season. I know it was a much needed break for me, but I’m excited to now hit the ground running back here on vegaroo and announce the next Sydney Vegan Drinks night!
We’ll be back at The Hive Bar who hosted our last awesome event, at 93 Erskineville Road. The event is from 7-10 (or likely later…) on January 28th.
As usual we’ll have yummy vegan snacks and a list of vegan wine, beer, cocktail and mocktail options.
We’re asking for suggested donation of $5 from attendees.
I started asking for suggestions for beneficiaries, but when my friend Derek of Inner West Live alerted me to a recent attack on the penguins of Manly, I knew immediately that these were the animals I wanted to help! Penguins are my spirit animal, man!
You can view some news footage about the attacks here.
The money we raise will go to the Manly Environmental Centre who have a Penguin Warden program! I know what you’re thinking, “Where do I sign up???” Easy. Click here to learn more about penguin protection!
I’m really excited about this particular event and hope to see/meet many of you there.
If you’d like to come it would be cool if you RSVPed on our Facebook event and invited your friends!! If you’re not on Facebook you can just leave your RSVP as a comment here.
UPDATE: We just learned that a Vegan Drinks night is starting up in Melbourne, hosted by the lovely Carla of Easy as Vegan Pie. Their first night is also Jan 28 and you can read more here on their Facebook event.
Be Right Back…
December 14th, 2010 by Sharon
Well, I suppose it’s about time I blow the dust off this here website and give you an update. As you may have read in my last post, I had a bit of trouble returning to Australia from overseas. I’m back safely now and thank everyone who left comments or sent messages of support. Unfortuantely though, this delay has had a bit of a domino effect, putting me way behind on just about everything including vegaroo.
I’ve decided to give myself a little bit of breathing room and keep this site on hiatus until January. I’ll have some time off around the holidays during which I’ll be working on a site re-design, writing up lots of posts, and adding new features so that in the new year we can re-launch bigger and better!
Sadly I’ve also had to postpone the next Sydney Vegan Drinks night, which was originally scheduled to be on this Friday. Instead it will now be on 28 January, once again at The Hive Bar in Erskineville. I’ll send out more details as we get closer.
In the mean time, I’m still happy to respond to any questions, suggestions and writing submissions . You can reach me at email@example.com
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, compassionate, and joyous holiday season!
Sharon, vegaroo! Editor
November 26th, 2010 by Sharon
I know this is an Australian blog, and that as a vegan there are certainly plenty of reasons to hate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. But as an American ex-pat myself, currently spending time with my family in the states, after a really tough few days, I felt the need to write. I hope you’ll forgive this far-more-personal-than-usual post.
I came back to California with my boyfriend, for the first time since moving to Sydney 10 months ago and spent a wonderful week visiting friends in the Bay Area. We drank wine in gorgeous Napa Valley, took the requisite dorky photos in front of the Golden Gate bridge, ate 7 different types of burritos, and dined in some of San Francisco’s finest vegan restaurants. And then on Saturday night we got held up at gunpoint in Oakland.
It was a pretty traumatic experience, but luckily we made it out safe. Unfortunately along with our wallets, my phone, and camera, they also got my passport. Luckily I was able to get on a plane to Las Vegas where we’re spending Thanksgiving with my family. However, without a passport I can’t come back to Australia. We’ve made about a hundred teary phone calls, visited a number of government offices, and it sounds like I should get a new passport Tuesday, but there may be some additional complications with the new visa I am on.
To make matters worse, it’s become clear this will be my last Thanksgiving with my Grandma. In addition to driving me all over Nevada to sort out paperwork, my Mom has been arranging hospice care and cremation services.
Anyway, all this is to say, it had not exactly been the most cheerful holiday around here. But I have had a lot of time to reflect on the last few days, and it’s made me realise just how lucky I really am, and how thankful I am this year.
I have some amazing friends in the Bay Area who went above and beyond to help us out, make sure we were well-fed, and generally lend their support. A million thanks to Laura, Jonas, Sammie, Tom, and Greg especially! And all of our friends back in Sydney have been wonderful, sending messages of support. We miss you all!
Though it’s tough for my family in a lot of ways right now, my parents are two of the strongest people I know, and we’re banding together to get through everything together and still laughing, relaxing, and eating. We cooked up an all-vegan dinner last night, and tonight they’re going nearly all vegan.
And a wonderful Aussie bloke named Jim changed my life this year, with his optimism, generosity, and humour. Without him by my side I’d probably be a mess right now.
I can’t wait to get back to my new home in Australia, but in the mean time I’m celebrating all of these amazing people and things in my life right now.
2010 Cruelty Free Festival
November 10th, 2010 by Sharon
After a whirlwind weekend of vegan events, I’m finally catching up. Sadly, our final Sydney Vegan Bake Sale of 2010 got rained out and I only got to snap photos of the baked goods my housemates and I made. Luckily, some of the goods were able to be transported to Naked Espresso where the wonderful staff sold them, and we still managed to raise $361!
And the timing worked out well, so that anything we didn’t sell we could bring to the Vegan Society NSW stall at the Cruelty Free Festival!
The event was a huge success! It was my first one and I volunteered to be there at the butt-crack of dawn to help with load-in, which was cool because I got to meet a lot of awesome vendors and community organisations.
Some of my favourites were:
Rubyfruit! I pretty much raved about their cheesecakes to everyone I saw that day. They’re based in the blue mountains and don’t have a storefront, but sell out of local cafes. They also do cupcakes and muffins and while they don’t appear to have a website, you can find out more info on their Facebook page.
The Cruelty Free Shop always hooks me up with hard to come by vegan products, like my beloved Go Max Go bars.
I didn’t get to attend a lot of cooking demos, but I went to Leigh Drew’s biscuit demo, which was unsurprisingly fabulous. Somebody get this lady a cooking show! And while I was a non-participant in the vegan speed dating, I think it was an awesome idea and hope there were some vegan love connections made.
I also walked away with a lovely dress, child’s colouring book, bottle of garlic infused olive oil, a jar of mustard pickles being sold by an adorable little old lady at the MAWA stall, and a tummy full of spring rolls, bliss balls, quiche and gozleme.
A huge round of applause to Sarah and Animal Liberation for organising such a wonderful community-building event!