Rebecca Knowles

The Circle Has Closed

In the Guardian’s monthly round-up on “Animals Farmed”, I read that France has exported 2,000 breeding pigs to China to help them recoup losses caused by African swine fever. Almost a quarter of the world’s pigs are expected to die from the outbreak.

Fifteen ducks in an American lab studying avian diseases were found dead by a caretaker – they had died of dehydration.

Although the badger cull is finally being phased out, at least 100,000 badgers have been killed since 2013 in a (failed) attempt to prevent bovine TB that leads to the compulsory slaughter of 30,000 cattle in the UK every year at a cost of £150 million. This, the Guardian reports, is a severe problem for farmers and taxpayers. Does it ever occur to people that this is a severe problem for the animals too?

The pigs, the ducks, the badgers, the cows and on and on with our insatiable demand, come hell or highwater, to find safe ways to continue to eat animals? What are we doing here? Why are we continuing to shove a system that is obviously broken?

Well, guess what, nature is having her revenge. With COVID-19 we are getting a very small taste of what it feels like to be waiting to die. To die an unnecessary death – just like all the animals we eat – because of people eating animals. The circle has closed. We need to stop now, for us and them, before it’s too late.

(photo source: Fred Tanneau, AFP, the Guardian)

Announcement

The Vegan Roadshow

17 March at 05:50 · 

Hi Everyone, due to the worsening public health situation, we took a decision at the weekend to cancel all our upcoming events until further notice. The health of the public, and ours, is paramount. We also feel that people will be understandably reluctant to take leaflets and food samples from us given the current climate. It’s disappointing, as we have some really exciting events in the pipeline, but hopefully we will be back on track again soon.
In the meantime, we will still be working hard behind the scenes on our political campaign, an exciting farmers’ research project, and developing our new website “Farmers For Stock-Free Farming”. Join our group Vegan Outreach Scotland if you haven’t already to stay connected and keep up-to-date with our work!👍💚

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

Who we are

Who We Are

evolving conscience ending suffering creating sustainability

Vegan Outreach Scotland (VOS) holds to the vision of a sustainable Vegan world where no sentient being suffers to become our food, our clothing, our science experiment or any other form of exploitation.

Appealing to the public to change their eating habits is, of course, just one part of the change that needs to occur before a Vegan world emerges. If public demand for meat, fish, and dairy products declines then suppliers will have to change their output accordingly.

Farmers for Stock Free Farming (FFSFF) – website coming soon – looks at supporting farmers who are curious about growing plant protein crops as an alternative to livestock agriculture.
The Vegan Society has produced an excellent report that gives specific examples of green protein crops that can be cultivated in a sustainable way in the UK.

This can only happen on a significant scale if our government embraces the vision and provides incentives to farmers to switch to plant-based agriculture. Writing and meeting with MPs on a local level is another task for VOS. Many policy-makers have already shown an interest in plant-based agriculture.

One huge boost is that the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is a Vegan! (http://www.kerrymccarthymp.org/)…and an outspoken one at that! Although this is a devolved position in Scotland, power holders from both countries are said to work closely together on these critical issues.


What, I hear you ask, is going to happen to all the farmed animals when we are no longer conspiring to eat them?

This is where VOS, FFSFF, and the government will join forces in creating rescue sanctuaries for previously farmed animals, spaying and neutering animals when necessary to prevent further production, and designing programs so that the public can sponsor, foster or adopt an animal for the rest of their natural, healthy life. This may take place on existing farms, sanctuaries, or – where people have suitable space – in privately owned gardens and land.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be free from suffering.

Creating Sustainability

In the week that the non-profit Million Dollar Vegan offers Pope Francis $1 million to the charity/charities of his choosing if he will go vegan for Lent and promote their Fight Climate Change with Diet Change agenda to his followers, has the time come to check our animal products at the kitchen door?

Project Drawdown, an international coalition of scientists, researchers and policymakers, collated and ranked 100 solutions to reverse global warming. Shifting to a “Plant-Rich Diet” ranked number 4 in its ability to reduce total atmospheric CO2-EQ. Offshore wind-turbines ranked 22. According to Project Drawdown, the most comprehensive analysis of both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions generated by animal agriculture puts them at more than 50% of global annual emissions. Chad Frischmann, research director for Project Drawdown, stated that “the food we produce and consume is the most important contribution we as individuals can make to reducing global warming”

In fact, 8 of Project Drawdown’s top 20 solutions relate to Food. Only 5 relate to Energy. Why is it then that the climate change debate focuses on weaning us off fossil fuels with almost no mention of weaning us off animal products?

Last month, the innovative EAT-Lancet Commission reported that “food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental stability on earth”. The commission stated that a diet rich in plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, whole grains) with fewer animal-source foods confers both improved health and environmental benefits. The commission concluded that failing to shift in this direction would mean that “today’s children will inherit a planet that has been severely degraded and where much of the population will increasingly suffer from malnutrition and preventable diseases”.

In their 1.5-Degree C Special Report released last year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that a global shift to a plant-based diet would save 29-70% in CO2-EQ. A study published in Nature concluded that continuing to ignore this much needed transition will take us “beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity”. The study, which analysed data on the food systems of every country prescribed that UK citizens need to consume 90% less pork, beef and lamb; 60% less milk and, globally, 50% less eggs.

Can’t we just raise livestock a little more sustainably instead?

A 2018 study that researched 40,000 farms in 119 countries and investigated 40 food products (90% of everything we eat) concluded that there is no such thing as sustainable meat and diary: “even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing”. Dr Joseph Poore of Oxford University, the lead researcher in the study, echoed the words of Chad Frischmann in saying that “a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth”.

Climate Week North East commences on March 15th. Emerging grass-roots groups such as Extinction Rebellion place the whole onus of our impending climatic disaster on the government. Certainly, in terms of our food system, taxing meat (as harshly as tobacco given that it matches the health risks) and incentivising the growing of plant proteins would be a welcome indicator of the government’s acknowledgement of the issues. Similarly, the Department of Health could take a spinach leaf out of Canada’s book and change their advice on a healthy diet to steer the country towards plant-centred mealtimes. But we cannot wait for the government. There is a lot that we, as individuals, can and must do. As we have seen, going vegan massively helps the planet, but it also helps us as a nation to break-free from our collective hypocrisy.

We pride ourselves on being a country that vigorously opposes animal cruelty; yet, we endorse and pay for routine, institutional mercilessness towards farmed animals. Transitioning to a plant-based diet would free us from this duplicity. It would permit us to align our forks with our values.

Our excuses, like greenhouse gases, are killing us. What are we waiting for?

Rebecca Knowles
Founding Director, Vegan Outreach Scotland
Correspondence concerning this article can be emailed to: veganoutreachscotland@gmail.com

Vegan Outreach Scotland is a grass-roots movement that launched in Aberdeen three and half years ago. Its purpose is to help people make the connection between their lifestyle choices and the exploitation of other species, the impact on the planet, and the damage to their own health.

Rebecca has published articles in Holistic Scotland and Vegan Life magazines. She spoke at the Aberdeen Science Centre on March 18th, 2018 on the topic of: “Beyond Personal: Dietary Changes for Planetary Health”.

From a press release to the P&J, by Rebecca Knowles, December 2018

The Darkness of Spring

The Darkness of Spring

Ending Suffering

Spring is a stressful time for me. I dread it. Eggs fall out of nests, fledglings fail to launch, underweight hedgehogs don’t wake up from hibernation, and worms surfacing in the spring rains after a long dark winter are promptly eaten.
Nature can be brutal. But there are also the unnecessary, human-made tragedies that our fellow animals are forced to endure. Maternal bonds are severed, bloodied babies die in the freezing rain, and mothers, unable to endure yet another breeding season, die in the agony of childbirth.

To bring a child into the world, to bond with it, to protect it with your very life, only to have it taken from you and killed as “food” is an unimaginable tragedy.
This is the reality, over and over and over again, of the livestock industry.

On a bad day, I can’t bring myself to look in the fields as we drive by. On a bad day I can’t handle the sight of another dead lamb or sheep, of babies shivering in the cold, of a mother rolling, struggling alone to bring her child into the world.

Please join us in one of our outreach endeavours this springtime. Help us to help people realize that we are not the only species who can have our hearts broken, who can feel fear, who can suffer. We have betrayed them. It’s time to make amends.

Vegan Pets

It took us a while to get there, but now all of our 11 dogs are happy, healthy VEGANS!

Main stream manufacturers of dog and cat food have done a fantastic job of hiding the fact that commercial pet food is made from found-Dead, Diseased, Dying, and Disabled animals (the 4 Ds). No wonder those tins smell so bad!

Our dogs used to be picky eaters (despite the fact that we cooked “good” food for them everyday), but since switching to a vegan diet they eat up every bit, and their poo doesn’t seem to smell so bad either!

A neighbour (who spent a lot of time petting our dogs) recently made the comment that her hands don’t smell after stroking our dogs – that they have no odour like many other dogs do. This really surprised me as many of them haven’t had a bath for months…..and months….! She attributed this to their vegan diet.

We discovered this brilliant book: Plant Based Recipes For Dogs by Heather Coster (available on Amazon). Heather, in my opinion, deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for this invaluable contribution to a sustainable, cruelty free world. The book is well researched and in addition to great recipes it also has a thorough glossary of various types of ingredients and their nutritional value (fruits, vegetables, pulses, grains, nuts, seeds, oils, milks, flours, herbs and spices). We have tried several of Heather’s recipes which have received a unanimous “two paws up” from all our canine kids. And….we enjoy eating them too!

The “Chowder Mix” (see below) is one of her staple recipes (p.32 of her book) for which we have managed to find a very close substitute in pre-mixed and packaged form, which saves us time (and effort!).

So, here’s what we are currently feeding our doggies.

Happy Dogs Recipe

The base for the recipe is “Chowder Mix” (Vegetable Broth Mix) – you can buy this at any supermarket. It is basically a packet of mixed pulses, lentils and usually barley e.g. Tesco Soup and Broth Mix or Great Scot Scotch Broth Mix (ASDA is selling this for just 80p a pack right now!). One packet of this will last up to 8 feeding times for us (that’s all 11 dogs!) – so that’s pretty economical.


Instructions: Soak the pack overnight in cold water. Next day, rinse well and divide into 2 portions. One portion we keep in the fridge for later in the week. The other we cook in a large pan (overall cooking time about 50 mins). At about the 40 minute mark, we add 4 cups of white rice (you could use brown if you prefer), a teaspoon of turmeric (anti-inflammatory, aids digestion, liver function and metabolism) and more boiling water. Cook for about 15 minutes more until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.

When cooked and cooled, we take approximately ¼ of the pan and mix it in a large bowl with a couple of heaped scoops of vegan dog kibble, and one teaspoon of yeast extract dissolved in a cup of boiling water (this adds a yummy taste and smell which the dogs love. Get the kind without salt if you can find it). We mix this all up really well and…..Voila!….a meal for 11 dogs! The other ¾ of the pan is saved in the fridge for the next 3 meals (we feed our dogs twice a day as some of them have teeny tiny stomachs and can’t eat much at once).


As far as Vegan Kibble goes, we have tried 2 brands so far, both of which our dogs seemed to love: Yarrah and V-dog. Both of these, along with Benevo – which we are about to try next – are available from www.veggiepets.com. They deliver cheaply by courier in 3-4 days and have a whole range of treats and chews also.