The UK should be ashamed of its dogmatic, morally disasterous approach to the use of primates in scientific research.

Last week Chinese researchers created genetically modified autistic monkeys. These ethically criminal experiments are not confined to international laboratories. The UK continues to experiment on thousands of monkeys each year.

The last remaining chimpanzees in US research laboratories are preparing to embark on their retirement in sanctuaries across the country. The chimps’ planned release was announced by The US National Institute of Health in November last year. The NIH concluded there was no further justification to hold these primates for biomedical research.

Chimpanzees are human’s closest living relative and the most intelligent primate, sharing 98% of our DNA. Primatologist Jane Goodall famously discovered chimpanzees’ ability to use tools in the 1960s. It now seems that Chimps might even share our penchant for a Sunday crossword. A 2013 study published by the Zoological Society of London showed that these emotionally receptive creatures engage in puzzle solving for fun.

It is partly this high level of sentience that caused the UK to ban the use of chimpanzees, along with all great apes, in medical research nearly two decades ago.

In 2010 the European Union followed the Britain’s example, also announcing a ban on experiments using great apes.

However, other primate species are still used in research across the globe. In the UK, around 3,000 macaque and marmoset monkeys are experimented on each year. Continue reading

Our appetite for meat is sinful and it’s time it was taxed accordingly

We are slowly killing ourselves, and the planet, with our gargantuan appetite for meat and we should be paying the price.

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What is your guiltiest pleasure? A tipple after dinner? A few too many biscuits with your mid-morning cup of tea? Binge-watching reality TV? We all have our trivial guilty habits. But one particular habit results in the slaughter of six million animals each hour. This same habit is destroying our planet and making us ill and fat. This habit is eating meat.

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Get involved in helping to shape and exciting new eco/ethical magazine!

Big apologies for the lack of content recently but this is partly down to being busy creating new material!

There are lots of exciting new features/longer pieces that I will be posting soon.

Many of these will be featured in a magazine that I have been involved in creating, but to make this possible we need your input. Please take a minute to fill out this survey to make sure this magazine is the best it can be!

Follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CQBDMRL

Why are foxes still topping the news agenda?

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It’s officially begun, Cameron is making swift work of destroying a rare political victory for animal rights activists, Britain’s decade old hunting ban. The decision to have a parliamentary vote on whether to ‘relax’ the ban next week has left critics accusing Cameron of trying to sneak hunting in ‘through the back door’. There has been nothing under the radar about this announcement and it would be naïve to think that Cameron didn’t foresee this. This fresh news on the hotly contested fox hunting debate is creeping up on the Budget for the top spot on the political news agenda.

In terms of public political debate there is something so refreshingly simple about blasting countryside toffs for killing foxes or being a countryside toff defending your right to kill foxes. This is a public issue that has such prominence that it merited the implementation of the rarely used Parliamentary act which pushed through its ban in 2005. This puts it right up there with matters such as trying Nazis for war crimes and realigning the sexual offenses act to make the age of consent the same for same sex and inter sex couples.

So what is it about fox hunting that creates such a wave of emotion and indignation amongst the British public? Continue reading

10 Go-To Spots for Vegans in London

Days out

  1. Freightliners FarmLondon’s only farm with a non-slaughter policy
©Freightliners Farm
©Freightliners Farm

Most Londoners know that the city is littered with urban farms. However, for vegans and animal lovers, the tranquil ‘at one with nature’ vibe at these farms are slightly tainted by the inevitable fate of its farmyard residents.

At Freightliners Farm, in Islington, visitors can visit the cows, goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits in the knowledge that they will be living out their days without any chance of becoming dinner.

  1. London Wetlands Centrecage free animal appreciation

The wildlife at the London Wetlands centre in Barnes is not exactly exotic. Depending on the season you may see lizards, butterflies, frogs, birds and snakes and otters if you’re lucky.

But any lack of giraffes or tigers is made up for by the fact that any wildlife spotted here is enjoying a life free from captivity.

  1. Camley Street Natural Parkcountry vibes in zone 1

A slightly scaled down version of the Wetlands Center, Camley Street National Park is a Wildlife Trust reserve at the heart of the city. No cages to be found here either and it’s free!

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Who killed compassion?

Charlotte's Web

You are 5 years old and you are sobbing uncontrollably baffled, devastated, horrified that something so cruel could be happening. The ground is covered in snow, the birds are singing a chirpy little tune and then all of a sudden your world is torn apart… Bambi the talking deer’s Mum has been shot dead by a hunter.

PETA provide a list of films that teach children to be compassionate towards animals. I doubt whoever compiled this list had a particularly difficult task. Family friendly films seem to almost primarily teach compassion and empathy, especially towards animals. Who can forget that heartbreaking, stomach sinking moment in Charlotte’s Web when Wibur realizes he will one day be made into bacon? Or poor little Babe’s naive faith that Farmer Hoggett would never dream of eating him. Or Chicken Run; even though they were just a bunch of talking cartoon chickens that didn’t look a whole lot like chickens I think we’d have all liked to think they were just ‘going on the holidays’ when the farmer picked them off one by one to be made into pie.

And then there’s the time Nemo gets stolen from his Dad or when Dumbo’s Mum the circus elephant gets beaten for trying to protect her baby. Then there’s Watership Down, The Fox and the Hound, 101 Dalmations, Madagascar… all seemingly demonstrating the same ethos: animals are worthy of human compassion.

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Vegan kitchen gadgets: the Nutribullet

The Nutribullet is not just a new must have gadget for dieters, it is also a seriously handy kitchen sidekick for any vegan.

David Wolfe, a raw food vegan known for his appearances in documentaries such as Food Matters, Hungry for Change and Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 days, is the official celebrity spokesman for the Nutribullet. Whatever your views on the raw vegan diet most vegans can get on board with why Wolfe and other health buffs endorse the product. The Nutribullet is sold on the premise that it is superior to juicers as it doesn’t remove the fibre packed pulp and its high powered blade means it is more effective than regular blenders at breaking down any chunks. So essentially it makes it easy to cram in a sh** tonne of plants into your diet.

The rush of omnivores trying this new diet gadget are excitedly pulverizing heaps of spinach, berries and kale as if they have discovered the Holy Grail. Meanwhile the vegan community are watching on as yet another nutrition makes that revolutionary claim… plants are really bloody good for you!

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Vegan: a lifestyle not a diet

January is drawing to a close which means its officially time to stop trying to morph into Gwyneth Paltrow. Although undertaking that obligatory, strict post festive detox is said to help kick-start a healthier lifestyle it can also result in a hunger so severe that the rest of the year is spent making up for that month of abstinence.

Will power of the sort needed to sustain those saintly new years habits is not easy. It is a widely accepted fact that denying oneself of something, whether it be food related or not, only increases desire for that forbidden thing. People often revere at my ability to stick at the vegan ‘diet’ after so many years of eating animal products. I have come to realise that this is really a manifestation of our society’s warped eating habits and perception of food. Most people choose to ‘diet’ for a reason that is important to them whether this be to down to health, appearance or ethical purposes. This  makes it baffling that diets have become synonymous with transient phases in ones life.

Although it is good PR for veganism, its increasingly popularized use as a quick way to lose weight only to be dropped a few weeks later can be frustrating. Veganism is not a strict diet for the simple reason that most people choose to go vegan for ethical reasons. This means that instead of refusing foods because you can’t eat them you are saying no because you don’t want them. Surely this should be the reasoning behind any change in diet? That is my explanation for people that find it hard to fathom how someone can be strong enough to say no to meat, eggs dairy. After the initial transition will power just doesn’t come into it.

The Veganuary initiative has been encouraging people to try the vegan diet for the month of January. I hope that participants don’t join the hoards of other dieters ending the month with a sigh of relief and going back to old habits. Veganism is for life, not just for January.

Is it irresponsible to raise vegan children?

‘Is veganism child abuse?’. This is one of the many headlines to emerge after Florida mum Sarah Anne Markham, 23, was found guilty of child abuse after refusing to feed her dehydrated 12 month old baby boy with the formula prescribed by her pediatrician. Sarah was scared the formula may contain animal by-products and this would go against her vegan beliefs. The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail and countless bloggers have jumped on the band wagon of claiming that this case represented wider concerns in regards to raising children on a ‘restricted’ vegan diet.

‘This controversy is a non-issue’ insists Amanda Baker, senior advocacy officer at The Vegan Society. ‘The public uproar is fuelled by ignorance of good dietetics and poor journalism in the main.’ There are estimated to be around 150,000 vegans living in the UK. This relatively marginalized group advocates a diet that avoids all animal products, that means no meat, no cheese, no eggs, no milk. This can seem gruelingly restrictive however Amanda says that anyone making this claim should ‘do their homework on dietetics and nutrition, as well as the far more numerous cases of child nutrition neglect by non-vegans.’

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Restaurant Review: Tibits

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Ever since the 80s Ikea have been bringing Scandinavian practicality to the world of home furnishing and introduced our palettes to a whole new world of delicious yet questionably sourced meatballs. In 2008 the latest Swedish export arrived in London. Tibits, situated in the haven that is Heddon Street’s food quarter just a stone’s throw from busy Regent Street, is educating Londoners on the joys of vegetarian, seasonal non-GM food.

Tibits with its sleek front, elegant clientele and elaborate al fresco dining area wouldn’t look out of place on an LA street front. This is smart vegetarian cuisine, a world away from the hippy Camden cafes that have previously dominated the London vegetarian-dining scene. Upon arrival you are asked ‘have you been to Tibits before?’ a precursor to the unique dining experience it provides. Situated ceremoniously in the middle of the light and airy top floor of the restaurant is the ‘food boat’, a buffet table filled with over 40 vegetarian and vegan hot and cold dishes which diners serve themselves.

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