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What is Vegan Action?
Vegan Action is a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational membership organization. Our mission is to enhance public awareness about the many benefits of a vegan diet and lifestyle, and to work to improve the availability of vegan foods.
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Vegan Action Chapter in Toronto
The Vegan Action Chapter in Toronto gathers to discuss issues concerning living a vegan lifestyle. It offers support and information for vegans and all people who would like to learn more about this way of living. Our main purpose is to take action by brainstorming on vegan outreach strategies and pursuing a plan of action such as providing lectures and talks at schools or other welcoming institutions. The aim is to take action and focus on finding options to work within our communities and city to provide practical alternatives towards building a more compassionate and humane world and to spread the benefits of leading a vegan lifestyle
beneficial for the well-being of all people, the planet and all species.
We want to work on building alternative ways of activism which may help us reach people who might otherwise be turned off by other more aggressive forms of activism, such as: protesting. When we find that if our message is not being welcomed by certain people or communities, it is time to work on innovative ways to open ourselves more and become flexible enough to deliver the same message in a format that can be more easily received by audiences who do not like extreme froms of activism.
By observing closely what our society wants and craves, we can try to translate our compassionate message in a way which is closer to the format they are used to dealing with. All forms of activism are equally valuable and needed, they reach different people and different results. Vegan Action wants to come up with an action plan which includes information and activities which are easy for people to receive and follow. The idea is to deliver the information in a way that we can make others open their hearts to receiving it, rather than closing their hearts and minds to it. We can do this by investigating ways to do activism which is friendly and entices people to take interest by relating the information to something they care about. For example, their health.
Our Vegan Action Chapter's aim is to help people question the status quo by offering them alternative information which might relate to their personal lives. Hopefully and very gradually this knowledge can help people start making a transition towards vegetarianism and veganism and towards leading more compassionate and cruelty-free lives which can include all beings and life on this planet.
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Join Vegan Chapter in Toronto
If you are interested in participating in our Vegan Action Chapter in Toronto please contact
Veronica at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Vegan Action and Related Activities
The activities of a Chapter are as limitless as our imagination. We can table, sponsor potlucks, put on a McVegan event. Whatever helps people learn about the benefits of veganism is worth doing.
We can also work on finding effective ways to distribute a starter kit of materials, including newsletters and Join Us pamphlets, Why Vegan pamphlets (put out by Vegan Outreach), sheets containing nutritional information (put out by Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine), and humorous cookzines containing vegan recipes.
We can go to schools and other welcoming institutions to give lectures, presentations and provide information.
We can also distribute McVegan stickers, Vegan Action bumper stickers and even shirts. And, as part of a growing network of chapters, we'll be in direct communication with other chapters through our electronic mailing list. Sharing ideas and providing mutual support, we'll be part of a growing coalition of vegan activists.
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Although there are many different reasons for becoming vegan, there are three that are most common. One is concern for animals. Many people become vegetarian because they do not want to kill animals. However, in today's society, because the conditions of animals raised for food are so inhumane, many people become vegan and avoid animal products completely. The second reason is health. It is now known that eating meat and dairy has disastrous results for people's health. Finally, there are environmental concerns. A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded that the second greatest source of pollution, after automobiles, was the meat industry.
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While some people might be conscious of what transpires in today's slaughterhouses, few are aware of the inherently cruel and exploitative nature of the dairy and egg industries: Battery hens used for egg production are possibly the most ill-treated of all farm animals. Their entire lives are spent in cages so small that they cannot concurrently spread their wings. The cages, stacked three to four levels high, have wire mesh floors which are slanted to allow the eggs to roll onto a belt. Lacking solid ground to wear down their claws, the hens' feet often become permanently attached to the floors. Amputation of the last digit of the hens' toes solves this problem. Egg producers have learned that along with minimizing the light available to layers, searing or clipping off a large portion of the hens' upper mandible will reduce the damage done by frustrated birds suffering from stress-induced violence. These practices are performed without anesthesia, resulting in the premature death of many hens. Even those who survive these procedures can expect to live only a year and a half, far less than the fifteen to twenty years of which they are capable. Egg-farmers regularly lace the birds' food with antibiotics to lessen outbreaks of disease. Nevertheless, salmonellosis and leukosis are extremely common in flocks. Dairy cows have also fallen victim to animal agriculture's demand to cut production costs. Thanks to the pharmaceutical industry, dairy farmers now have the option of utilizing a wide array of growth hormones and drugs, including the genetically engineered rBGH, which has been linked to a variety of health problems. A steadily increasing number of dairy cows are being kept in confinement for their entire, abbreviated lives. Those who do not have to exist in concrete stalls must still endure almost constant pregnancy (to ensure continual lactation) and immediate separation from their calves conceived through artificial insemination. Calves, especially if male, are generally sold to the veal industry and will suffer through sixteen weeks of severe confinement before slaughter. After six to seven years (less than one-third of their possible life expectancy) in the dairy industry most cows are spent and will be sold for low-grade beef.
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Considering the horrors of the animal agriculture industry, it is comforting to know that a diet free from animal exploitation offers so many health benefits. An increasing number of studies are showing that human nutritional needs are best met with a vegan diet.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a Cornell University nutritional biochemist, supervised the largest, most in-depth nutritional epidemiological study of its kind ever undertaken. The close observation of the eating habits of 6,500 Chinese participants over a seven year period brought him to conclude that, "We're basically a vegetarian species and should be eating a wide variety of plant foods and minimizing our intake of animal foods." He further stated, "In the next ten years, one of the things you're bound to hear is that animal protein...is one of the most toxic nutrients of all that can be considered." Indeed, a direct link was found in this study between the consumption of animal products and life threatening illnesses such as heart disease and cancers of the breast and colon. Not only do animal products pose health risks for human consumers, they offer us nothing nutritive that cannot be more readily obtained from plant sources. Protein, iron, calcium and all vitamin requirements are easily met through eating only grains, beans, vegetables, nuts and fruits, with the possible exception of Vitamin B-12, which is available in fortified foods and supplements.
While the question many people ask when comparing the vegan diet to a standard diet is "Will I get enough?", it is much more important to ask "Have I been getting too much?". One major concern is fat and cholesterol, which are linked to heart disease and cancer. Both meat and dairy are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. A vegan diet, on the other hand, is low in saturated fat but high in beneficial polyunsaturated fat. Further, plants contain virtually no cholesterol. Further, while the fat content of a vegan diet is substantially lower than an omnivorous one, what might be equally beneficial is the lower protein intake. Excess animal protein has been linked to osteoporosis, kidney disease, and even cancer. Americans, it has been shown, typically have three to four times as much protein in their diet as is necessary.
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On April 27, 1999, in an article on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Union of Concerned Scientists discussed the environmental impact of the meat industry. In a study listing the most harmful
activities and products for the environment, the meat industry was second, behind only automobiles.
"The industrial production of beef, poultry and pork pollutes waterways and air, fouls the land and gobbles up valuable resources, said Warren Leon, deputy director of the Massachusetts environmental group. The manufacture and use of cars and light trucks were at the top of the list. ``That was about what we expected,'' Leon said. But Leon said researchers were surprised when meat production showed up second only to vehicles in terms of environmental destruction. ``We knew meat production would have some kind of impact, but we didn't expect it to be so significant.'' In terms of water pollution, said Leon, beef is 17 times more damaging than all that goes into making pasta. This is because of water pollution from manure, as well as the amount of electrical energy, fuel, fertilizer and pesticides needed to raise cattle fodder. ``The contamination to the nation's waterways from manure run- off is extremely serious,'' he said. ``Twenty tons of livestock manure are produced for every household in the country. We have strict laws governing the disposal of human waste, but the regulations are lax, or often nonexistent, for animal waste.'' Beef production is also 20 times more damaging to wildlife habitat than pasta production, said Leon, because it uses far more land."
This article confirms what we have know for a long time. In the US and other nations, the impact animal agriculture has had on the environment has been devastating. Raising animals for food is a wasteful and inefficient process. Becoming a vegan translates into a drastic alleviation of the stress we place on our environment, as a plant-based diet requires far less water, energy, raw materials, and land to produce. Feedlots and slaughterhouses in the US are the largest single polluters of rivers and streams. Furthermore, crops destined for animal feed are not required to meet the same standards as those grown for human consumption, resulting in chemical pesticides and herbicides being applied more liberally. These chemicals are passed on to consumers in their milk, eggs and meat. Animal Damage Control, a government agency, annually kills millions of indigenous animals, from coyotes to crows, all at the behest of cattle and sheep ranchers, who also vehemently oppose the reintroduction of native species such as the wolf. From the overuse of water to soil erosion and deforestation, it is difficult to overstate the case for re-examining what
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Putting it Into Practice
Becoming vegan is easy. Many traditional American dishes, such as hot dogs and ice cream now have their vegan equivalents. You may also want to look into the cuisines of other cultures such as Chinese or Ethiopian. If you live in a city there will probably be a wide selection of ethnic markets and restaurants to choose from which offer vegan foods (ask about cooking oil or broths which might be of animal origin). Non-leather shoes, belts and other accessories are easy to find. (Link to vendors) Many department stores sell canvas, rubber or vinyl shoes and belts. Health food stores carry a wide variety of vegan products such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste, while many mainstream companies are catching on to this demand, resulting in the wider availability of vegan items in supermarkets and drugstores. The vegan logo, introduced by Vegan Action, is also making it easier to identify vegan products. Try cleaning your house with a simple cleaner like Murphy'sOil Soap or Bon Ami instead of big-name, toxic cleaners or find a book on making your own with simple household items such as vinegar and baking soda. Your everyday actions effect all of the Earth's inhabitants. By learning to consume only what you need, you can, as the saying goes: "Live simply so that others may simply live." While making these changes can be difficult at first, you will eventually find that they become second nature. If you believe in making a positive statement through your lifestyle we're sure you'll choose veganism!
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The Great Meatout Day
The Great American Meatout was launched in 1985 by consumer and animal protection activists to provide American consumers a one-day respite from the meat industry's relentless propaganda in schools, food markets, and the mass media. It was directed specifically at the "National Meat Week," then promoted by the meat industry and since accorded a proper burial.
From these humble beginnings, Meatout has grown explosively to become the nation's largest annual grass roots diet education campaign. Caring folks in nearly two thousand communities in all 50 states and several foreign countries welcome spring with colorful educational events. These range from simple information tables, exhibits, and cooking demonstrations to elaborate receptions and festivals. Visitors are asked to "kick the meat habit on March 20 (first day of spring) and explore a more wholesome, less violent diet."
For more info click here.
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