Friday, July 23, 2010

Janet Creates A Safe and Happy Home for Farm Animals

Janet Taylor is celebrating her 70th birthday but could pass for mid-50s. Maybe lugging hefty hay bales keeps her looking young and slim or maybe her compassionate heart is her secret to vitality?

Twenty two years ago when she was a feisty, investigative journalist, Janet uncovered a scandal that turned her life upside down. She followed lorries across Europe carrying animals for export to North Africa for slaughter. She witnessed shocking cruelties that broke every rule in the book and the newspaper expose forced the House of Commons to bring in an overnight ban on live export.

Not long after that disturbing revelation, she visited a livestock market and was horrified by the appalling handling of animals. She convinced her editor to do a report on the mistreatment of farm animals in markets.

“I had to buy the animals that were ill and diseased because no-one would have believed me. So I went to markets in the Midlands and Wales and bought up a collection of animals and took them straight to the vet who was equally as horrified. We met with animal welfare groups to draw attention to their plight.”

Her series of articles in News of the World sparked public outrage. But the success of the campaign also left Janet with a slight problem. She now had about 80 animals and colleagues suggested she start a sanctuary!

Donations flooded in and actress Joanna Lumley threw her celebrity support behind the sanctuary. After renting a series of small holdings, 13 years ago, a loyal supporter set up the 70-acre sanctuary at Manor Orchard Farm in Evesham, Worcestershire.

So today we are sitting at the cluttered kitchen table having an interview with Puppa, a fluffy poodle-cross-terrier squatting on the table between us, like a jealous toddler vying for mum’s attention.

Two giant ginger-coloured Dogne de Bordeaux hounds called Rosie and Ruby snooze in their baskets while Tilly, the doleful-eyed, droppy-eared Bassett sprawls on the floor and Beatrice, the shy German Shepherd mooches in the laundry. To add to the cosy scenario, two African grey parrots let out the odd screech and dance on their perches and large fish tanks take up bench space. Clearly this is the domain of an animal lover.

Outside in the barns and fields dedicated volunteers are tending the happy residents of Britain’s first farm animal sanctuary. More than 600 animals and birds rescued from abuse, neglect, slaughter and abandonment have found a miraculous reprieve from suffering and death and enjoy an idyllic life here.

The menagerie includes 430 sheep, four cattle, 12 horses and ponies, 13 pigs, countless bedraggled rescued battery hens now radiantly healthy and glossy in the dappled sunlight, a gaggle of quirky geese, ducks and turkeys, a few lucky rabbits, five mischievous dogs and an assortment of feral cats. Janet and the volunteers know every animal by name and each animal has a dramatic triumph over tragedy tale to tell.

Janet tells the story of Christian. “He was the sad little cream-coloured blue-eyed foal I bought out of Henley Market in the autumn. He was just one of hundreds of similar foals born every year who are unwanted. There’s so much over-breeding of poor stock in this country, which leaves huge numbers of animals, particularly pony foals, with no value at all. There isn’t a market for them.

“At a late autumn sale in a Welsh market 33 horses and ponies were left unsold and abandoned, just left behind for someone else to deal with. That turned out to be the slaughter man, who then decided that even on offer for £3 each they weren’t worth collecting. So they were left, with no one responsible to give them food and water until a small equine charity stepped in and found temporary places for them until homes could be found.

“We offered to take a foal to keep Christian company, and so a skinny, scruffy little colt arrived, who we’ve named Connor. Connor doesn’t like people much and I can’t say I blame him. It’s possible that the only contact he’s ever had with a member of the human race has been a smack in the face or a well-aimed kick.”

In another recent rescue, the sanctuary saved eight young sheep. Janet wrote in her newsletter: ”When I saw them I wanted to weep.

Only one of them was capable of standing up and he had weak, misshapen back legs that he dragged behind him. One little sheep had his toe reduced to pulp from infection that had been left untreated. Their bellies were soaked in urine where they’d been lying in dirty bedding and their fleeces were ragged and dirty.”

The motley collection was lovingly tended by the vet and volunteers and Janet reports: “These disabled little animals have stolen our hearts and we’re determined that however long it takes and whatever it takes we’re going to get them back on their feet.”

Why would anyone bother rescuing and pampering farm animals? Janet explains: “These animals have so many people who care about them which is amazing because they’re not companion animals, they’re not wild, exotic or endangered animals, but commercial animals who only exist to provide meat or milk. These lovely animals are amongst the most abused in the world.”

“Farm animals are not considered to be worth caring for. They are treated like just another food product although unlike fruits and vegetables, they bleed when they are injured. They die from fear and stress. They suffer distress when their young are taken away from them. They are often exploited until they are too old to stand.

“There are very few places where farm animals can find sanctuary to live out their lives in peace, with kindness and respect.”

Why does Janet continue to take in animals when they already have so many? She says: “The simple answer is because when they’re brought here, there’s nowhere else for them to go. We’re the end of the line. People have little compassion for farm animals.

“I remember when I stood in a Dutch veal-rearing farm watching tiny British-bred calves being unloaded into their concrete crates where they were going to be kept for the next few months, in the dark with no bedding and no companionship. I wept as one distressed, bewildered little heifer pushed her head out of the crate and began to suck on my fingers, the last bit of comfort she was ever going to get in her short life.

“I watched the smiling female farmer and wanted to rage and scream in her face. She would have thought I was mad. People who are so completely devoid of all compassion always think the rest of us are mad. I thank God for mad people.”

A staunch vegetarian, Janet is opposed to killing animals for meat. She says: “There is no such thing as humane killing. It’s a contradiction. To take a healthy animal only a few weeks or months old and kill it is never humane.”

But a lucky few escape their miserable fate and are blessed to live out natural lives on the lush fields of Worcestershire. Janet says: “We watch these animals become comfortable and confident. We see their characters develop. We admire their intelligence and the way they embrace their peaceful surroundings. We watch them begin to play and finally become content. They form close companionships and soon recognise the people who care for them.”

She admits her favourite animals are sheep.

“I love sheep because they are so misunderstood. Farmers think they are stupid but they are prey animals constantly in a state of tension when being rounded up by dogs they see as predators. They are tuned into any slight movement.”

“Little lambs are born so playful, full of joy, with such optimism and sense of fun. They are so trusting and have so much pleasure in being alive and yet their lives are so brief.”

She has a soft spot for Snowdrop, one of triplets born last year to Sunny, a tiny Welsh ewe. Snowdrop, pure white with transparent pink ears, weighed in at 2lbs 6oz and was rejected by mum. Bottlefed by Janet, she thrived in the shelter of the barn and has now graduated to the paddocks with the other orphan lambs, Adam, Annie and Minnie.

But it’s not all fun and games on the farm. The relentless grind of daily chores is gruelling, especially through the bleak winter months when the horses are stabled and require a daily mucking out and the sheep are handfed hay in the shelter of the barns.

Come spring the sheep are given a complete overhaul of teeth, feet and worming treatments. If that sounds easy, imagine first catching each sheep and then trimming more than 1600 tough feet!

Then there is fence repairing, roof maintenance, gutter clearing, nettle bashing, shearing and tractor scrubbing! Janet is grateful to have David and Louise as full-time employees.

However the financial anguish is tougher than the drudgery. The sanctuary costs £2000 a week to operate and paying the bills is a nerve-racking challenge. The idealistic sanctuary relies on the generosity of about 360 supporters and has an enthusiastic band of followers on Facebook.

Janet is an extremely modest lady. She lost her ego somewhere between mucking out stables, trimming hooves and sloshing through mud at dawn but through the hard slog and close contact with her animal family she has developed a beautiful, caring heart and fierce fighting spirit devoted to creatures who can not defend themselves from human callousness.

Her good work was recognised this year when she was given an award for the Best Farm Animal Rescue by Wetnose Animal Aid at a ceremony in the House of Lords where eccentric animals lovers from around the country gathered in the hallowed halls of parliament.

The sanctuary’s financial struggles continue however Janet’s steadfast commitment remains to give the rescued animals a safe and happy home for the rest of their natural lives.

What can you do to help? You can visit the sanctuary on Open Day on Sunday September 5 or attend the Carol Service and Nativity on Saturday December 4 this year.

You can sponsor an animal of your choice and receive photos and updates or you can give family members and friends who have everything an unusual birthday or Christmas gift of an animal sponsorship.

Patron, Joanna Lumley has the last word: “It is such a joy to see the animals who have found their way to the sanctuary. They know they are safe. They look contented, confident and peaceful, the young ones so full of life. Not enough people seem to care about them, and there are not enough places for them to go. We need help from caring people to keep the sanctuary going.”

For more information, visit

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Juliet’s Story: An Inspiring Life Devoted to Campaigning for a Better, Kinder world

Growing up with intense emotions, an affinity with animals and fire in her belly to right wrongs, Juliet Gellatley is a natural campaigner. She was the kind of child who rescued stray dogs and pregnant cats.

However, being raised in a meat eating home, like most of us, she didn’t make the connection between her love of pets and the food on her plate.

But all that changed when, as an impressionable teenager, she came across an Anti-Factory Farming leaflet. Enraged by the cruelty it exposed, she challenged adults who rebuffed her with the question: “Do you eat meat?” When she said “Yes”, they retorted: “Well don’t lecture me about the horrors of factory farming.” It was a revelation and a turning point.

Not content to read about the issue, the feisty and courageous young 15-year-old wanted to see a factory farm for herself. So she visited a show farm in the Midlands that gave guided tours to demonstrate the economic benefits of ‘manufacturing’ eggs and meat.

“It was so surreal seeing the battery unit. Films or photos do not prepare you for the reality. The first thing that hits you is the deafening noise of tens of thousands of birds crammed in a concrete shed and they all stop clucking when you walk in and there’s momentary silence.

“You look around and see a vision of insanity, a vision of hell. You see rows of cages stacked on top of each other containing dead hens, deformed hens and hens with no feathers covered in sores in pain and distress.

“The official was citing impressive statistics about the output of eggs and the efficiency of production without one jot of concern for the welfare of the birds.

“All I could see was the obvious suffering. I felt such deep sorrow. You take birds that are meant to fly and enjoy freedom and feel the sun on their backs and shove them in cages. It was heart-breaking.”

That same day, Juliet visited a pig unit full of thousands of pregnant sows lying miserably on barren, concrete floors, unable to move in tiny stalls. She realised that anyone with common decency would see how cruel it was but the guide was oblivious.

Empathy Prevents Cruelty

It was the first time in her young life she had met someone devoid of empathy, cut off from their own feelings and the feelings of other living creatures.

“I always remember the blank look in his eyes. People without empathy have got dead eyes that have lost their vibrancy. When someone cuts off from their compassion and their morality, they become dangerous and destructive and capable of cruelty.”

That shocking personal experience crystallised Juliet’s resolve to devote her life to championing the cause of animal protection. That fateful day determined her destiny. She had to awaken empathy in people so they would extend the same love they feel for their pets to “food” animals.

The first radical act she did when she returned home to suburban Stockport, south of Manchester, was declare herself a vegetarian, much to her mother’s dismay!

Viva! Means Life!

Fast forward 30 years and Juliet is now the founder and director of Viva!, the most successful campaigning organisation for animal protection in the UK. Its impact reverberates around the world. The name Viva! is an acronym for Vegetarian International Voice for Animals and it celebrates life!

Viva! aims to save the lives of billions of pigs, cattle, sheep, hens, turkeys, ducks, geese and fish slaughtered for food by advocating a meat-free, plant-based diet for every human being on the planet.

In the UK alone, 850 million animals and hundreds of millions of fish are killed every year to put meat on tables; that’s more than three million animals a day. The days of genteel family farms are gone. There are now 171,700 animal agricultural holdings in the UK raising animals in massive volumes. These animals are subjected to cruel and agonising deaths in 428 abattoirs, hidden away from public view.

“When someone becomes a vegetarian they save lives, says Juliet. The average British meat eater chomps through four cattle, 18 pigs, 23 sheep and lambs, 1158 chickens, 39 turkeys, 28 ducks, one rabbit, one goose, 6182 fish and 3593 shellfish in their lifetime. This is a grand total of 11,046 animals.

“This simple dietary decision is the pivot of effective protest against the daily atrocities of factory farming. And we can protest three times a day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. And as consumers we make a real difference to demand for meat.”

Viva! claims that a meat-free diet is not only ethical but healthy, preventing sickness and disease. And if enough people ‘Go Veggie’, it would alleviate world hunger and solve most of our global environmental problems.

For a woman constantly aware of the horrors of animal suffering and mass slaughter, Juliet, at 46, has learned to moderate her sadness and outrage. She laughs heartily at herself! She speaks eloquently with the charming diction of actress Emma Thompson. This seasoned campaigner is joyful and fun loving as well as compassionate and strident.

Natural curls frame her radiant face and clear blue eyes. Her softness and sensitivity belie a fierce determination and intelligence that led to her being awarded the Pride of Britain Linda McCartney Award for Animal Welfare in 1999 and the Australian Wildlife Protection Council’s achievement award in 2002 for her gutsy confrontation of outback farmers in a controversial media campaign to save kangaroos.

The Making of a Campaigner

How did the idealistic teenager journey from a lonely stretch in the wilderness as a sole crusader to the influential campaigner she is today?

Determined to devote her life to animals, Juliet studied furiously at Reading University and emerged with a degree in Psychology and Zoology. At 24, she landed a job as youth campaigner with the staid Vegetarian Society and grabbed national media attention with a campaign called SCREAM targeting at school children.

Talking to curious students in classrooms throughout the UK and publishing upbeat magazines, she was inundated with 500 to 900 letters daily from enthusiastic young converts and succeeded in influencing an entire generation.

Her innovative work was flourishing when the Society suddenly changed direction. After seven years of solid dedication, Juliet was disillusioned and tempted to emigrate. But decided to stay in Britain, believing in the country’s potential to lead the world in animal protection. So she set about creating her own organisation!

It was your classic ‘garage success story’. Starting from scratch was a daunting prospect. With no premises, no equipment, no staff and no funding, Juliet worked from home in Cheshire with the support of her husband, Tony Wardle, a talented print journalist and television documentary maker. Benefactor, Audrey Eyton donated £20,000 to get Viva! underway.

Juliet devoted every waking hour. She recalls the early days: “If I hadn’t been a complete workaholic giving every ounce of myself, it would have failed. I would get up in the morning in my dressing gown and go straight to my office. At some point I’d get dressed, and carry on working throughout the day then jump in the car with sacks of mail and drive like a maniac to catch the evening post and come home, eat and carry on working until midnight. We also had volunteers living at our house, which was very challenging!”

Viva! was officially launched, amidst a media frenzy, in 1994 with the endorsement of Paul and Linda McCartney. The famous Beatle said: “For far too long animals have had no voice to speak against the cruelties done to them in the name of diet. Viva! has given animals a voice.”

“It was amazing to have such powerful support. Right from the beginning we were punching way above our weight. We had such limited resources yet the cause was attracting national publicity.

“We launched on a campaign called Convert a Parent. On these issues young people are more knowledgeable and older people should listen. It is their world and their future.”

With a goal to empower youth with the facts, the fledging Viva! produced 12 definitive booklets covering ethics, nutrition, global hunger and environmental issues. The case for boycotting meat spread like wild fire.

Just 18 months after launching, Viva! set up a Helpline advising people how to Go Veggie and mailed out thousands of inspirational starter packs.

On reflection, Juliet surprises herself with Viva!’s phenomenal reach, admitting: “At the end of the day, we were just a small group of idealistic people in a garage!”

From a garage in Cheshire, smack in the middle of hostile farming country, Viva! grew rapidly and within two years had attracted a loyal team of volunteers and enough funding to employ four staff members. The team moved headquarters to Brighton and gave the trendy seaside town, the prestigious title Vegetarian Capital of Europe.

Juliet explains: “We put all our strength into being a practical campaigning organisation. We are very hand to mouth. We don’t sit on money. Donations get spent straight away on tangible projects. Supporters can see what we were doing with their donations.

“We believe that we can’t tell people about the horrors of factory farming if we haven’t been into the farms. People have the basic right to know where their food comes from. Most Brits live in cities or suburbia and buy plastic-wrapped meat in supermarkets without thinking about its origin or they are consoled by images of happy farmyard animals running around idyllic country fields.”

Impressive Victories

In 15 years Viva! has spearheaded several hard-hitting campaigns including Pig In Hell. Undercover footage of the appalling conditions of Britain’s factory pig farms was screened worldwide.

The disturbing film, Ducks Out of Water was screened by the BBC and GMTV Viva! exposed the biggest turkey farm in Britain for three Christmases in a row with front page newspaper coverage and television showing the terrible reality behind the festive lunch.

Viva! is currently fighting to stop a senseless government-sanctioned massacre of badgers in Wales.

Viva! has stopped UK supermarkets from selling kangaroo and other ‘exotic’ meats and has exposed the horrendous cruelties of the fur industry.

Viva’s graphic Anti-Dairy campaign has smashed the myth of contented cows grazing in lush fields by revealing the misery of cows who are incarcerated in concrete pens, kept permanently pregnant, have their calves removed days after giving birth and are forced to produce 120 pints of milk a day from swollen udders infected with excruciating mastitis.

Juliet says: “People have a huge emotional attachment to milk because we were given it as babies so we think it is all-nourishing no matter what species it comes from. However it is unnatural and dangerous to consume milk meant for a calf. Dairy is linked with a host of diseases.”

On-line Bonanza

The Viva! website is a dynamic, resource-rich platform offering a bonanza of articles, booklets, magazines and books and a dazzling array of healthy treats and colourful merchandise to order online.

Viva! has galvanised the support of 20,000 members who stage events across the UK every week. And an impressive line-up of celebrity supporters includes patron Heather Mills, Martin Shaw, Joanna Lumley, Chrissie Hynde, Hayley Mills, Sir Paul McCartney, Michael Mansfield and Benjamin Zephaniah.

In 2002, Juliet launched the national charity, the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation, to focus on nutrition and health education. As a qualified nutritionist and zoologist she fervently believes a non-meat diet is the ideal, healthiest diet for humans.

“Fundamentally what’s gnawing at people is the misguided idea that humans are meant to eat meat even though they know that vegetarians have less heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, obesity and countless other health problems.

“Humans are not natural born killers. Our physiology, with grinding teeth and long intestines, is designed to eat wheat not meat.

“We have so many other food choices for protein. In fact, people thrive on a vegan diet, reducing their chance of chronic diseases and increasing their energy to enjoy life.”

Juliet is indeed living life to the full. Six years ago Viva! relocated to Bristol and with twin sons Jazz and Finn, aged seven, she enjoys a natural lifestyle in the picturesque countryside.

The family recently rescued Alflie, an adorable St Bernard who Juliet says behaves more like a lolloping bear than a dog!

The also have Bertie, a pet turkey. Juliet says: “When you massage his head he trembles down to his wing tips! He is so curious, communicative and affectionate, following us around, making his little gobble-gobble noises. When you spend time with animals and bond, you know what complex, emotional creatures they are, not objects.”

Juliet admits she has never been a fitness fanatic but that didn’t stop her from pulling on her hiking boots to climb Yorkshire’s mountain peaks as a fundraiser.

Her latest project is setting up the Revive Clinic to help sick people regain health and vitality. She regularly speaks on the benefits of the humble Soya Bean, goes on the road with Veggie Cookery Shows, promotes Fruity Fun Days and is currently re-writing her acclaimed book, The Silent Ark.

Friends say that Juliet Gellatley is blessed to have a sense of purpose and meaning. Every day she wakes up knowing she is making a profound contribution to creating a better, kinder world.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Case for Going Veggie

The strong case for “going veggie” rests on four key reasons: saving animals, saving yourself, saving others and saving the planet!

The moral decision to stop eating animals is based on the refusal to participate in the suffering and killing of animals for food. This argument gathers potency when you are confronted with the horrifying facts about 21st century factory farming.

The volume of animals slaughtered for food has escalated over the last 30 years with the rampant proliferation of fast food outlets that tantalise the insatiable human appetite for animal flesh.

Globally 57 billion animals are killed for food every year, according to UN figures. Pause for a moment to let this figure sink in. The human population is only 6.8 billion. This staggering volume of animals including cattle, pigs, sheep, chicken, ducks, turkeys, fish and seafood is unimaginable and incomprehensible.

Worldwide five billion sick, deformed and distressed hens are incarnated in cages to lay eggs. In US intensive egg production is maximised in hideous sheds which each house up to 50,000 screeching birds, in a vision of insanity.

The US, not surprisingly, excels when it comes to sheer numbers of animals killed. In hidden slaughterhouses dotted across the country, life is drained from so-called “food animals” 10,000 times a minute. As the Americans say, “do the math”. How many animals is that per hour, per day, per week, per month, per year?

Americans eat as much chicken now in a single day as they did in an entire year in the 1930s. In 2010, 8.5 million birds are killed every week to keep up the demand from KFC, McDonalds and other fast food pushers. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, turkeys are massacred en mass, ironically to celebrate these heart-warming, wholesome occasions.

In the UK, 850 million animals and hundreds of millions of fish are killed every year to put meat on British tables; that’s more than three million animals a day.

In Australia, with a population of just 22 million people, 500 million animals are raised in factory farms annually and 11 million laying hens are crammed in cages.

To keep up with the rapacious demand for animal flesh, factory farms now “manufacture” meat through the intensive breeding, raising and slaughtering of animals in abject conditions. Small, independent family farms are relegated to the idyllic rural past. More than 90 per cent of meat consumed in developed countries comes from factory farms. And China and other developing countries are following the trend.

The cruel conditions in these intensive operations, run by a monopoly of corporations, cause misery and pain to millions of creatures before they are subjected to terrifying and agonising deaths.

Food animals are considered by this efficient industry as objects and money-making commodities, rather than living creatures that feel acute emotions and physical pain. Animals are sentient vertebrates; they have senses and a nervous system, just as humans do.

If humans extended the same love they feel for their pets to “food animals”, they could never accept these daily atrocities and they would not contemplate eating animal flesh. Imagine for a moment the horror of killing and eating your pet dog.

The heart-breaking film Earthlings, available on the internet, shows shocking footage of everyday scenes in US slaughterhouses. The book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer documents a litany of sadistic abuses by desensitised workers in slaughterhouses across the US. And the film, Food, Inc. exposes the market stranglehold of the six aggressive corporate giants behind the new agribusiness.

In the UK, Viva! (Vegetarian International Voice for Animals) has produced hard-hitting films and graphic reports on the torturous treatment of loveable farmyard animals including pigs, ducks, turkeys and lambs.

Pigs are affectionate and intelligent animals, similar in nature to dogs. Viva! founder and director, Juliet Gellatley has seen the horror for herself. She writes: “Peek into any intensive farm in Britain and you are likely to see diseased, dead or dying animals. Neglect and indifference are commonplace – broken legs, abscesses, ruptured stomachs, animals coughing with pneumonia, others panting from meningitis, cuts and lacerations.

“The camera lights revealed baby pigs in barren metal pens and utterly devoid of bedding. The noise was their tiny trotters clattering on the bare metal floors as they tried to get away. But there was no place to go, no place to hide.”

The Truth About Dairy

Nor is the dairy industry the idyllic picture of contented cows grazing in lush fields. Viva’s ground-breaking Anti-Dairy campaign has smashed the milk myth.

Over-worked cows live in misery. Incarcerated in concrete pens, they are kept permanently pregnant and have their calves traumatically removed days after giving birth. Emaciated cows and are forced to produce 40 litres of milk a day from grotesquely swollen udders infected with excruciating mastitis. Milk containing high levels of hormones, antibiotics and pus can be sold legally.

Juliet says: “People have a huge emotional attachment to milk because we were given it as babies so we think it is all-nourishing no matter what species it comes from. However it is unnatural and dangerous to consume milk meant for a calf. Dairy is linked with a host of diseases.”

The same merciless approach and economies of scale are now applied to fishing. A single trawler, the size of a football field, has the ability to haul 50 tons of sea animals in a few minutes on long lines that stretch for 75 miles and nets of 30 miles in length. The oceans are being emptied of sea life at an alarming rate.

The film Earthlings shows Japanese fishermen luring mother dolphins and their calves into a cove, hauling them onto land and hacking and mutilating them while still alive and writhing in agony. Dolphin meat is sold as a delicacy for diners with discerning palates and no concern for these beautiful, gentle creatures.

Save Animals

When you stop eating meat you literally save animals. The average British meat eater chomps through four cattle, 18 pigs, 23 sheep and lambs, 1158 chickens, 39 turkeys, 28 ducks, one rabbit, one goose, 6182 fish and 3593 shellfish in their lifetime. This is a total of 11,046 animals.

Becoming a vegetarian (meat and fish free diet) or even better a vegan (meat, fish, egg and dairy-free, plant-based diet) is the most effective, radical action an individual can take to boycott factory farming and reduce the slaughter of animals.

As consumers we wield immense power in our food choices by reducing demand and supply. We get to protest against the horrors of factory farming three times a day; breakfast, lunch and dinner and influence others every time we take a stand as a Veggie. We are not helpless victims of the system. We have the power to change our meat-eating culture.

Save Yourself

The saddest point of this genocide is the fact that meat-eating is not necessary for human survival or health. There is a vast range of plant-based sources of protein and calcium, zinc, iron and B vitamins. Nutritious alternatives include legumes such as soy, lentils and chickpeas; nuts such as almonds and cashews, grains such as rice, oats, rye and wheat and seeds such as sesame and sunflower.

These days an appetising variety of meat-free, ready-to-eat products offer an easy alternative to meat. Despite the scare-mongering of the dairy industry about soy products, the truth is the humble soya bean is power packed with protein, even more concentrated in tofu and tempeh and soy milk.

The reason most meat-eaters refuse to give up their habit is not health but taste. Staunch carnivores will tell you defiantly they simply like the taste of meat! To justify mass suffering and killing for the trivial reason of satisfying taste buds seems immoral in the extreme.

Maybe some startling facts will spoil any fast food fan’s appetite. In Eating Animals, the author describes how chickens are dunked in water tanks he calls “fecal soup” full of filth and bacteria and that millions of contaminated chickens are shipped for sale to consumers.

Factory farmed meat is dangerous. A meat-free, dairy-free diet is healthy. The second reason to Go Veggie is to save yourself and your whole family.

Juliet, a qualified zoologist and nutritionist, says: “Fundamentally what’s gnawing at people is the misguided idea that humans are meant to eat meat even though they know that vegetarians have less heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, obesity and countless other health problems.

“Humans are not natural born killers. Our physiology, with grinding teeth and long intestines, is designed to eat wheat not meat.

“We have so many other food choices for protein. In fact, people thrive on a vegan diet, reducing their chance of chronic diseases and increasing their energy to enjoy life.”

Save The Planet

Most of us feel helpless when it comes to saving the planet and yet factory farming is at the very root cause of environmental destruction.

Viva! reports: “Rainforests are cleared for grazing; methane from livestock causes global warming; soil is eroded by cattle; slurry poisons waterways and the seas are laid to waste by overfishing.”

Safran Foer reveals that American pig farms produce 72 million pounds of manure annually – that’s 130 times as much waste as the human population. Most of it seeps into rivers, lakes and oceans killing wildlife and polluting the air, water and land.

Pig effluent contains ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, cyanide, phosphorous, nitrates and heavy metals and 100 microbial pathogens that cause virulent diseases such as pfiesteria.

In the face of our collective helplessness about global warming, loss of habitat, species extinction, the pollution of land, water and air and threat of super bugs, it is empowering for caring individuals to understand the cause of these horrendous problems and know they can actually do something real on a daily basis to stop the destruction.

Save Others.

Viva! reports: “While 750 million people go the bed hungry every night, one third of the world’s grain is fed to farmed animals. A typical Western meat-based diet can only feed 2.5 billion people; a plant-based diet will feed every one of us.”

Maneka Gandhi, India’s former minister for social justice and empowerment, says: “In a country where millions of people go hungry, 37 per cent of arable land is being used to grow fodder for animals that are being raised and killed for export.

“As if that were not enough, we are exporting soya beans to feed European livestock, who will in turn be murdered for meat. I see no reason why India should feed the world at the expense of her own land, her water, her people, her hunger.”

There is a mountain of shocking evidence about the atrocities of factory farming and the case for Going Veggie for any courageous person who wants to face up to where their food comes from and give up their taste for meat.

Visit Viva!’s dynamic, resource-rich website; read Eating Animals and watch Earthlings and Food, Inc.

Once informed, you can no longer plead ignorance. You will be moved to feel empathy for other living creatures and confronted to make a choice. Please make it in favour of animals, the planet, the poor and hungry and your family and yourself.

As a new Vegan, every day I feel empowered and good about myself for not participating in cruelty against innocent animals. I feel physically better for not having dead flesh inside me. I feel a new level of strength and vitality.

And I feel determined to spread the message to Go Veggie.