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What do we think are the best vegetarian organisations ? Do we even need organisations to promote vegetarianism now ?
OK, I`ll start then - the Vegetarian Society is at www.vegsoc.org. There is also an equivalent Vegan site but the name escapes me.
Are there equivalents elsewhere and do they fulfill a role ?
I`ve heard of veggie organisations asking for donations saying it will help them, e.g. send out free veggie recipes to anyone enquiring. There might have been a case for that 20 years ago, but today ?
I was also surprised to see CIWF (Compassion in World Farming) (www.ciwf.co.org) welcoming the increased market share taken by British veal,(British law requires more humane treatment for calves than equivalent European law). I understand that CIWF is not a veggie org as such, but have they conceded too much ground ? There are no easy answers - what do others think ?
I like the idea of promoting vegetarianism, though I am not a fan of forcefully pushing others to “convert.” I feel that if one does not become a vegetarian or vegan for ones own reasons, they are not likely to stick with it long.
I am more in favor of vegetarian recourses, such as The Vegetarian Resource Group. I really like their Web site, and visit it often.
As far as promoting the cause, I think that PETA (U.K.) has done a lot to promote both vegetarianism and veganism. However, in the eyes of many they often push things too far, and the media loves to excoriate them as often as they can, but in spite of--or because of--the constant controversy, most everyone knows what PETA’s message is. Unfortunately, that particular kind of publicity may push people away from vegetarianism/veganism, for fear of being branded a radical.
As for organizations asking for donations, I agree, with computers as ubiquitous as they are, it would seem that any organization's costs should be lower nowadays, and an extraordinary amount of information can be provided online. Still, it obviously takes capital to run any enterprise, and not everyone has Internet access, so materials sent through the post are still necessary. Even if a particular organization fully embraced technology, there would still be costs associated with promoting and running their Web sites, and their business. That said, I have yet to find a veggie organization that I wish to support, financially speaking at least.
I bought Simply Delicious by Rose Elliot yesterday and have been reading though it. There were constant mentions of contacting The Vegetarian Society for information on your nearest Health Food store, and so on. This made me realise how much easier it is to be vegetarian now than it was 40 years ago, for me at least. She mentions how being vegetarian can be difficult because we don't have stock cubes. I don't know what I'd do without vegetable stock cubes (well, make my own stock probably but cooking takes so long without that anyway).
As to using veggie societies. I sometimes search for recipes on the internet and come ascross various sites but I'm not a member of anything particulary. I've got so many things I'm involved in as it is. I don't usually actively promote vegetarianism but, interestingly, meat eaters often bring up the topic so that gets me explaining my reasons.
I have a serious problem with PETA (at least the USA version). They might be proponents of vegetarians, but I don't think I need to see pictures of tortured cows and slaughter houses. After 24 years of being a vegetarian, I'm already sold and don't want to see this kind of stuff. I also think it's not appropriate for children, especially those that are already vegetarian. They don't seem to be sensitive to these situations.
Also, the whole companion animal stuff just really bothers me. I don't see any problems with companion animals, however PETA has a big problem with any and all of these. PETA seems more interested in the political cause than in the actual animals. Releasing animals that are intended to live as a companion animal is just cruel. My dog would certainly consider any separation from me as cruel and unusual punishment. As her human mom, It's my responsibility to provide her the most humane conditions, abuse free training and good socialization opportunities with humans, other dogs, and other species.
If PETA were to have their way, my ten pound ball of fluff would be left to fend for herself on the street. After meeting some dogs that have had to do this, I would never consider it a benefit to either the animals or the humans.
As you can tell I feel pretty strongly about PETA. I can't think of an organization that represents my values less, while at the same time that I am part of the group that they claim to represent (e.g. people who are concerned enough about the treatment of animals that they are vegetarians).
Anyone who is considering supporting PETA should research the entire set of beliefs of this organization before doing so. Their site is quite extensive and plainly talks about their causes.
I have my differences with PETA certainly. But I was surprised to hear they would encourage the release of companion animals. Could you please let me know where you saw this? The only bit I could find was in one of their factsheets (http://peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=133): "Cats and dogs are safest and happiest living inside with their human families. For safety?s sake, they should only be allowed out into securely fenced areas or under close supervision." I'm confused now.
Domesticated animals are severely disadvantaged in the wild. All of the inbreeding we've subjected their species to has for the most part crippled them in their former natural habitat. They're completely our responsibility, and PETA is probably toeing the stance of how irresponsible it'd be of us to release species we domesticated into the wild to live an extremely difficult lifestyle. If they truly care about animals, then I'm sure they follow the policy you read about in that fact sheet.
PETA isn't too bright, however, so I wouldn't be totally surprised if they did encourage something as retarded as freeing domesticated animals into the wild. Even though I don't eat fish, they're completely off base on some of their claims about fish intelligence and sentience.
PETA, like all extremist organizations, does more harm than good for its cause. I think animal welfare is a worthy cause, but I would never for a second wish to be represented by or grouped in with PETA, which makes vegetarians and people who are concerned with animal welfare look like a bunch of irrational nutcases.
Extremist groups that focus more on proselytizing and dramatic demonstrations will never sway the general public to their cause, because they refuse to acknowledge other points of view and would rather demonize everyone else, instead of meeting at some middle ground to promote real understanding.
As the one who first mentioned PETA I feel I must preface this post by saying that I do not agree with PETA on everything. I do have grievances with them, and I have never given them my money. They are far to disorganized; they have too many people “officially” speaking for them, and that tends to lead to contradictions and ambiguity. That said, I find much of what they have to say useful--to me at least--I do not expect it to be useful to everyone. I respect that some may find PETA’s actions offensive or too extreme.
To attempt to answer chanale’s question regarding their stance on companion animals. I believe PETA’s official stance is one along the classic Bob Barker “please spay and neuter your pets” line. They also discourage the giving of animals as pets since many of these animals are unwanted and are neglected or abandoned. They advocate adoption, and adopting adult animals over puppies and kittens. And as Yiggy mentioned: they address the issue of breading and inbreeding.
I have never heard of them advocating the releasing of companion animals as bilbette has alluded to. I am not saying that bilbette is wrong--they or someone speaking for them very well may have said that--just that I have never heard or read it.
A group that I have just become aware of is the Vegan Organic Network in the UK (http://www.veganorganic.net/). They take the word 'vegan' to the fullest extent by advocating completely cruelty-free farming (i.e., no harsh chemicals sprayed onto plants; vegetables are grown without animal manure or slaughterhouse by-products).
Crops that are grown this way have been labelled 'veganic' and to date I have only heard of one farm in the U.S. that adheres to these standards (Huguenot Street Farm in NY).
To me, this is the ultimate ideal-- complete independence from animals in our food production processes. These groups are showing that it can be done!
I would like to mention two things. One I have interned as well as worked for PETA and they do not have a problem with companion animals. Actually most of the people that work there bring their companion animals to work with them. The only thing (at least that I noticed) that they had a problem with was the mistreatment of companion animals. They have a department called Community Animal Project that goes out in the VA and NC area and helps companion animals that are being mistreated.
I would like to mention Farm Sanctuary as a wonderful veg organization. Although they are not very big they do make a difference. They have a Veg for Life campaign and I know that many people who visit their farms instantly turn veg.
I find PETA to be completely obnoxious for several reasons. One not mentioned here: their sexist campaigns, & their complete horribleness about any critique regarding them that they get. Hey, I'm a vegetarian--but I'm also a feminist, & there's no need for one to contradict the other.
Also--& I know a lot of veg*ns will disagree w/me--I am not a fan of any org or advocate that hammers along w/the comparison of factory farms, etc. to slavery or the Holocaust. Regardless of whether or not you think the comparison is, @ bottom, valid, it's really really problematic, given the history of race relations in the West, to compare animals to people of color/other minorities--I mean, given, for example, the history of referring to certain races as animals, etc.
I had a working service dog for thirteen years; I'd also heard that PETA advocated against service animals, but I don't know much about this.
This is a plug for the Vegetarian Cycling & Athletic Club - It's a UK based Club that was established in 1888. Yes, that's right 1888!
Club members show what can be achieved on a healthy Vegetarian or Vegan diet and spread the Vegetarian message amongst the sports community.
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