Saturday, 30 June 2007

V-Pro hemp protein powder (not just for athletes)

In my younger days as a keen martial artist and general fitness fanatic, my main concern when becoming vegan was getting enough high quality protein. I had fallen for all the, "you only get protein from meat/fish/chicken/eggs" rubbish that gets repeated over and over at gym’s around the world. If only I had known about Virginia Foods V-Pro hemp protein powder! This amazing protein powder is organic, vegan and of a form easily assimilated by the body. V-Pro can be used in smoothies (it blends really easily), added to cereals and porridge and sprinkled onto both hot and cold food. It tastes yummy too, so yummy in fact my girlfriend keeps using my V-Pro.

For all you body-building types, here’s the important stuff – V-Pro is 50% protein, of which one third is albumin (as found in egg whites) and two thirds edestin (a plant protein similar to that found in the body). V-Pro contains all the essential amino acids plus high levels of arginine and branch chained amino acids essential for muscle repair and growth.

I take tubs of V-Pro when I’m travelling and if I’m out for the day I take a couple of V-Pro smoothies to get me through the day. So, whether you’re exercising or training, or just need a good source of protein in your diet, try V-Pro hemp powder, its easily absorbed, tastes good and my girlfriend swears by it.

You've got milk (but it's unhealthy and cruel)

Imagine, one day after giving birth to your precious child, it is cruelly torn away from you. Meanwhile you are attached to a pump that constantly milks you, whilst you are fed antiobiotics and hormones to enable you to produce yet more milk. Your child is being fed milk replacers, including blood from your own species, so that your milk can be sold to other humans. You spend another 5 years standing on a cold concrete floor, surrounded by your own waste whilst you are forced to produce around 50 pounds of milk every day. You develop inflammation of the mammary glands (mastitis), perhaps caused by E.coli or other bacteria, and then you are sent off to be slaughtered.

If we saw this happening to human beings, we would call it torture, yet it happens to cows on a daily basis, so that we can consume milk, which we think is healthy for us (this is a grave misconception!) and many people don't even bat an eye lid. Many consider the lives of the cows to be less valuable than their own, but this is just a product of tradition and conditioning. A life is a life, by any other name.

Female cows are artifically inseminated a short while after their first birthdays. Once they have given birth they lactate for 10 months, before being inseminated again. Cows natural lifespan is around 25 years, but the stress caused by the poor conditions in animal factories results in disease and reproductive problems that makes the cows worthless to the dairy industry after a few years, at which time they are sent to be slaughtered.

Milk production has increased from 116 billion pounds of milk per year in 1950, to 170 billion pounds in 2004, yet there are about 6 million less cows on U.S. dairy farms than there were in 1950. Normally cows would only produce 16 pounds of milk each day for their calves, but they are forced to produce 50 pounds per day, to create milk for human consumption. Cows would usually live off grass, but they are forced to eat dead animals to increase their milk production.

Milk can potentially contain E.coli or one of 150 other types of bacteria. In one millilitre milk can legally contain as much as 750,000 somatic cells (white blood cells and skin cells that are shed from the lining of the udder.) Studies have demonstrated that giving cows cleaning housing, more space and improved diets and bedding, lowers the somatic cell count as well as cases of mastitis.

Drinking milk also subsidises the veal industry. Male calves are taken away from their mothers when they are one day old and chained into cramped stalls for three to 18 weeks, to be raised for veal. They are fed a milk substitute that causes them to gain a minimum of 2 pounds per day. Their diet is deliberately iron deficient causing anaemia, to make their flesh remain pale. Rennet, an ingredient found in many cheeses, is created from an enzyme in their stomachs. The calves suffer from diarrhea, pneumonia, and lameness as well as being frightened and longing for their mothers.

Large dairy farms damage the environment, as manure from the animals pollutes groundwater, rivers and streams. Animals in animal factories, which includes dairy farms, generate 1.65 billion tonnes of manure each year, much of this contaminates our waterways and drinking water. Farmed cows and sheep are responsible for almost two fifths of the total quantity of methane created by human activity. Methane is much more detrimental as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. One litre of methane has the same effect as over 60 litres of carbon dioxide. The contribution of animal farming to climate change exceeds our transport system. Livestock are also responsible for 9% of all CO2 emissions.

The rearing of livestock uses up over two-thirds of agricultural land in the world and one cow, reared by the dairy-products industry, can drink around 50 gallons of water per day.

Humans are the only species that imbibe milk after infancy or drink the milk of another species (apart from the milk fed to animals by humans). Cow's milk is designed to meet the nutritional requirements of calves, not human beings! According to the American Gastroenterogical Association, cow's milk is the primary cause of food allergies among infants and children. Studies have shown that autism and schizophrenia in children may be connected to the body's inability to process casein (a milk protein). When the children were given milk-free diets, symptoms of these diseases vanished or decreaseed in 80% of the case studies.

We think we need milk for calcium, but although American women consume huge quantities of calcium they have some of the highest incidences of osteoporosis in the world. Chinese people consume half the amount of calcium and have low rates of the illness. Medical studies have suggested that milk can actually increase women's risk of developing osteoporosis, to the point where, T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University has said, "The association between the intake of animal protein and fracture rates appears to be as strong as that between cigarette smoking and lung cancer."

Humans can get adequate protein from nuts, seeds, beans, grains and other legumes. Eating too much animal protein has been linked with an array of illnesses, including colon and liver cancer.

The alternative is to stop buying milk! There are plenty of other options, such as: soya milk, rice milk, oat milk and almond milk. They taste better, they don't come from a cow's colostrum, they are much healthier and don't involved animal cruelty!

Friday, 29 June 2007

Is ‘ethical’ fashion as ethical as it should be?

lamb.jpgI think the growing trend towards purchasing ethical products and garments is fantastic. I hope it is a lasting change rather than a fad. However, I have to take issue with a couple of things. I have noticed that many ‘ethical’ fashion brands and labels use non-animal friendly products, such as silk and leather. None of these are particularly ‘ethical.’ To be honest, wool’s not great either.

Silk is the fibre that silkworms weave to produce cocoons. The process of obtaining silk involves boiling silk cocoons for twenty minutes, until they are soft and opened out. There are many humane alternatives that can be used such as nylon, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments. At the very least peace silk should be used, which lets the silkworms live out their full cycle. I can appreciate that some brands are recycling old silk garments, to avoid creating more waste, but anything new could be made using other more animal friendly materials.

Billions of animals are killed for their skin every year to produce leather. They are castrated, branded, dehorned and have their tails docked without any anaesthetic, before bleeding to death and being skinned. Most of the leather used in the U.S. and Europe comes from India, China and other countries that have minimal or no animal welfare laws. China is the world’s largest exporter of leather and 2 million cats and dogs in China are killed each year for their skin. The rearing of animals for leather has been linked to climate change, water pollution, land degradation and the reduction of biodiversity. I am aware that some ethical brands use vegetable tanned leather, which is more environmentally friendly than regular leather, but it is still not very ethical.

You might think that wool is pretty innocuous. It’s more than just a haircut for the sheep. Shearers are usually paid by volume so they often work at a fast pace, with no regard for the animal’s welfare. They frequently kick, punch and cut the sheep when shearing them. A large proportion of the world’s wool comes from Australia and New Zealand, where around 140 million sheep per year are subjected to mulesing, whereby shears are used to slice large chunks of skin off the rear ends of live sheep without anaesthetics. Intensive sheep farming is again responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental degradation.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg. I appreciate that ethical fashion does not necessarily mean vegan fashion, but I do think that those producing what they deem to be ethical items, should take the welfare of animals into account. Rearing animals for their skin/wool/fur is not environmentally friendly or ethical, in my opinion.

[via Hippyshopper]

Vegan shoes galore!

Vegan shoes used to be frumpy, clumpy and incredibly unattractive. Those days are thankfully gone and there are now some wonderful vegan footwear brands, producing striking and cruelty free footwear. Many people like the comfort factor and breathability of leather shoes, but unfortunately it's a dirty business. Millions of animals are slaughtered every year for their skin, being subject to castration, branding, dehorning and tail docking (minus anesthetics), before bleeding to death and being skinned. Animal skin is then converted to leather with dangerous chemicals, dyes and other toxins, that are exceedingly harmful to people and the environment. Rearing animals whose skins are eventually transformed into leather uses vast amounts of fossil fuels. Farm animals create large amounts of toxic waste which is absorbed into the ground and surface water, polluting wells and rivers and contributing to global warming. The vast amount of land used for grazing also contributes to a negative environmental impact.

A study carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed that a solvent utilised in tanning leather has been linked with a heightened risk of testicular cancer. Additionally when you buy leather products, you may sometimes be purchasing leather from Asian cat and dog tanneries. For more information see is an alternative. Some fantastic vegan footwear brands have emerged that provide stylish and ethical vegan shoes. Three of my favourites are featured below. I will be featuring more in coming weeks!

Beyond Skin

Beyond Skin is an exclusive vegan footwear label that was established in 2001, by Natalie Dean, a make-up artist in the music and fashion industry. Beyond Skin footwear is hand-made to order in the UK, by a small manufacturer in East London, utilising a range of man-made fabrics such as polyester (kinder to the environment than viscose, which is processed with acid chemicals) and cotton backed polyurethane (which is less damaging to the environment than PVC). Polyurethane is not perfect by any means, but it is a whole lot better than leather! Beyond Skin is a firm favourite with celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Sadie Frost, Amanda Holden and Joanna Lumley.

Charmoné Shoes

These are my current favourites.
Charmoné Shoes were founded in 2006, by Jodi Koskella and Lauren Carroll who noticed a gap in the market for stylish vegan footwear. They work with the aim of producing beautiful, luxurious and sexy shoes that are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free. The shoes are crafted in Italy, utilising high quality Italian microfibers that are constructed like leather, allowing the skin to breathe. The materials used are free from PVC, instead using a polyurethane coating.

Bourgeois Bohéme

Bourgeois Bohéme, a 2007 PETA Proggy Award winner (for Best Cruelty-Free Shoe Retailer) is a trendy on-line boutique providing a range of vegan, natural and organic accessories for men and women. Their products are ethically sourced and the leather alternatives they use are mostly biodegradable. Bourgeois Bohéme endeavour to use recycled products when possible and are Vegan Society approved, as well as being PETA Business Friends.

[via Ethical Fashionista]