Tuesday, 19 June 2018

We Are The Glass Walls

Birmingham Wildlife Festival - 16th June 2018

"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian" 

Paul McCartney

I couldn't agree more with the above quote from Macca except I think everyone would turn vegan if they realised what actually went on during the production of meat and dairy, more on that later.

Last Saturday, June 18th we attended the annual Wildlife Festival in Birmingham, hosted by Badger Trust West Midlands. The weather gods were in our favour and held back the threatening rain clouds, but as usual, the parking was a nightmare; next time we take the train. The event was held in Victoria Square with many representatives from the #VeganWorld, #AnimalProtectionOrganisations, #HuntSabs and #AntiBloodSports groups. There was also a large selection of amazing #VeganFood options and ethical, #CrueltyFree products ranging from clothing to personal hygiene products. 

As anyone that knows me realises #AnimalRights and welfare is a driving issue in my life and always has been. In the 21st century, it is almost inconceivable to me that the human collective consciousness has not woken up to the abhorrent suffering and cruelty we are still inflicting on sentient beings by the millions every day around the World. Somehow people are able to compartmentalise their choices and actions to the suffering equation which in turn empowers the barbaric industries and practises that are going on all around us.

Maybe I'm weird, as I'm frequently reminded by my friends and loved ones, but the moment I realise that my personal actions and choices inflict any kind of suffering there is no turning back, I reform my will and actions or I can't live with myself. Too me, it's that simple.

The way we produce our food on industrial levels is not only sickening but also terrible for our environment and human health. The corporate propaganda machine spends hundreds of millions a year overloading us with pictures of 'happy chickens', smiling pigs and dancing cows and stops us thinking about the process of how these animals are 'produced' for the supermarkets. It never ceased to amaze me the disconnect. I've met so many people who don't realise that ham is from a pig or tinned tuna is a fish, I'm not joking. 

While travelling and eating in a variety of restaurants along the way, I've lost count of the number of dishes I've had to send back. Even after explaining my dietary choices, in detail if necessary, I've been served a salad or even an advertised veggie option with tuna or cheese in the dish. So many countries do not think of fish as animals, it's a real palm smacked on the forehead moment.

Anyway, that's all for now about the reason for my #veganism. I have lots of blog entries here talking about my reasons and health benefits. In this entry, I want to highlight some of the great work being done by ordinary people to help preserve and save animals all across the planet.

Upon arriving at the festival in Victoria Square, I was immediately drawn to a stand promoting an amazing project helping save the remaining Bengal Tigers. I was greeted by the very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate Tiger Awareness founder Phil Davis. Phil was manning the stand for Tiger Awareness who are a UK charity reaching out and working with Indian communities to help save the world's largest feline.

Here is an example of some of the amazing and vital projects they've implemented so far. There is so much more to do to the help guarantee a future for the wild Tiger.

  1. Tiger Awareness has built a school in Sundarbans (Bay of Bengal) helping and educating 150 children.
  2. They have built boundary walls around vital water wells in the Pench National Park to protect wildlife including Tigers that often fall in and perish when looking for water.
  3. They have set up Tiger Squads in Sundarbans which is helping reduce animal and human conflict.
  4. They have set up Animal Squads in the Pench buffer area to reduce animal and human conflict and crop raiding.
  5. They continually support forest staff with training and equipment such as solar lighting, health check-ups, first aid kits and vital water filters.
  6. And last of all but probably the most effective deterrent is the funding of the Anti-poaching dogs and handlers.
With approximately 3000 wild Bengal Tigers left in India every animal counts. The population is showing signs of recovery but this means we should not become complacent. The pressure for Tiger body parts in Asia and especially China is growing and the governments are dragging their feet implementing legislation and deterrents to stem the flow of Tigers out of India and S.E. Asia.

Phil Davis and his team and many others like him need support both financially and with help spreading the message. 

Can you imagine a World without the King of the Jungle? I can't, the idea appals me to the core, we can all help prevent this unimaginable tragedy.

This is real 'feet on the ground' conservation work, the real deal and they deserve our support. True conservation starts with education and action and these guys are leading the way by example and hard work. I hope we can work together in the future. I'd be honoured to be a small part of your bigger picture and the continued preservation of The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris).

© Phil Davis at the Tiger Awareness stand

I've been very fortunate to explore parts of beautiful India photographing its amazing and diverse wildlife and habitats, including Tigers. These projects are integral to India's future. The Indian people are very proud of their natural heritage and with our help, India and the Tiger has a bright future. We save the Tiger, we save India's biodiversity and the whole planet will benefit.

Another issue that's very close to my heart is the Dog and Cat meat festivals and trade in Asia. This is a very current and hot talking point and debate that in recent years has gained momentum and media coverage with big celebrity support such as comedian Ricky Gervais who has openly been challenging the S.E Asian governments. I do see a change coming but it does not mean we can ease off the pressure.

Every year in South Korea alone 2.5 million cats and dogs are systematically tortured and killed for human consumption. The brutality involved is truly shocking and makes traumatising reading and images. Nevertheless, this is happening right now and every day. 

The best way you can make a difference is to withdraw your spending power from the big companies like Samsung, Kia and Hyundai who are South Korean companies and have big business and trade deals with the South Korean government. Write to these companies and tell them why you are boycotting their products. Even better write to the London Ambassador Sungnam Lin, here's a link to the address: South Korea Embassy.

On the one side (my side) of the argument that "well it's their culture, it's the same as eating cows", this weak argument does not hold water. In the UK we used to burn, drown and stone women accused of being witches, that was our culture for hundreds of years, wasn't it? Well, thankfully we've become less ignorant and realised it was a bad idea for all kinds of obvious reasons. Just as well or myself and my friends would be living on a lonely, male-dominated island....I jest ladies.

The ladies I met at the weekend from the UK Rehoming for Dog CAt Meat Trade Survivors are doing tireless and self-funded work. They are finding homes for dogs rescued from the South Korean Dog Meat Trade. The dogs have been through quarantine in South Korea through Jenny Kim of KDS. All the dogs are ready to go straight into their new homes when they arrive. This is hostile and emotionally challenging work. They need our help desperately so please reach out any way you can at the above link or here.

We were delighted to meet one of the doggie ambassadors whose life has been saved. Jane, a large and gentle friendly dog adopted by Jane Bronte, and her companion Frankie.  These animals have been treated in the most horrible ways imaginable by humans and yet here they are, happy and trusting to all they came to say hello on this overcast and busy Saturday afternoon. How much we can learn from these animals. They are just like us in so many ways. They require love, kindness and compassion with family, food and a safe environment to rest their heads. I'm not ashamed to say, that Jane brought tears to my eyes.

Please get involved and join the UK Rehoming For DCMT Survivors I promise there are no graphic images just ways to help, from holding a fundraising coffee morning to opening your family and home to these wonderful animals, or contact me and I'll make an introduction for you.

DCMT Survivors Jane and little Frankie with Pilar Bueno and myself

We are hosting a Wellness Day to raise funds for our amazing Charity which helps the survivors of the Dog and Cat meat trade in Asia. We are a non-profit organisation so all funds raised, go directly to our work in rehoming these animals. 

On the day we will have a Reiki Practitioner, a Thai massage therapist, Acupressure & Deep Tissue massage therapist, Crystal Therapy, Reflexology, Yoga instructor who will hold introduction classes into Yoga, Ashtanga and Yin, Tropics skincare and facials therapist, Spiritual Healer, Tarot Card Reader, Colour & Image Specialist, Children's face paint and special effects artist, Vegan Cake stall and a full bar also serving Tea & Coffee. More stalls to be added. Tickets for entry are on sale now & prices are £3.50 adults and £1.50 children, babies free. 

It is a dog-friendly day too with beautiful grounds to even just walk your dog in with a coffee and cake. All treatments are discounted and 20% of the profits come to us. Some therapists are donating 100% of their proceeds and we are non-profit so it all goes directly to our cause. 

You will get to meet some of our Korean meat trade survivors on the day too who is now happily settled in the UK. Please use our Paypal link dcmtrehome@gmail.com using the ref "July 8th event " and add your email address for the tickets to be sent. 

We will be running a Silent Auction for some incredible prizes including a Derbyshire Cottage break, a Professional child's photo shoot and print, Afternoon tea at The Warbrook House Hotel with doggy treats and NLP coaching course & Diploma. There will also be a raffle. I can't thank you enough for your support on this day, it really means the World. 
Thank you
Louise Trevatt

BREAKING NEWS - Next event 11th July, a vigil outside the South Korean embassy

This year's festival was hosted by the Badger Trust West Midland. With the government's bounty now being placed on each badger (£50 an animal) their tireless and brave work is more important than ever. 

It was fantastic to meet so many representatives of the regional Badger Trust groups from around the country. We are making a difference and the day will come when these beautiful mammals can live out their lives in peace. The people are waking up to our barbaric and corrupt government's policies, misinformation and propaganda machine. 

The unsupported link between the badger and Bovine TB is a now scientifically proven without a shadow of a doubt as a fallacy. I'm most probably preaching to the choir here, but if you'd like more information on the findings and how you can get involved please go to the Badger Trust website here. I've also recently published on this blog more information about the current state of affairs concerning this issue.

It does seem that our wildlife is under attack like no other time, whether it's the badger and foxes, our raptors, raven or fish stocks. It seems everything is fair game. Make no mistake we are at war, we are the army of soldiers defending the innocent and defenceless. I take this personally as I know most of you do. This is all of our countryside and our wildlife. 

The #PowersThatBe treat the public with contempt and indifference and mock the general apathy. But the tide is turning as more and more are getting involved and raising their angered voices. The Powers That Be's arrogance will be their downfall, but until that day comes we must never give quarter. 
Get involved
Take a Stand
Make a Difference
Links will be listed at the end of this article

Myself and my niece Ellie Bonehill at the Animal Equality stand

I had a great chat with the guys at the Animal Equality stand while the ladies with me immersed themselves in the virtual reality presentation exposing the reality of the UK's meat and dairy industry. The tears flowed as I expected. 

For the newbie, these videos are very shocking but as most of you know the real horrors are just too much for the general public to deal with. These videos present an introductory doorway into the real issues concerning the farming and food industry where sentient animals are treated without compassion as mere commodities. 

In my time I've seen mountains of footage that has caused me to weep openly and lose sleep. As a wildlife photographer and naturalist, I've always been aware of these issues and apart from the health benefits, the reason I'm a 10yr vegan is that I've made a personal pledge to cause no more suffering....ever. 

I admit that it took me a long time to be honest with myself and a serious health issue forced my hand to re-evaluate my dietary choices. Going vegan is the best thing I've ever done with my life, the benefits have been huge and life-changing. Thankfully it seems this sentiment is spreading fast as country after country is switching to a #cruelty-free, #plant-based diet.

Latest UK figures show that veganism is on the rise and now approx 7% of the UK population has gone vegan. The numbers are staggering, that's 3.5 million vegans and rising in the UK alone!

Our planet and all life will be the benefactors.

There is no humane animal farming no matter how it is argued. When you take down your prejudices and programming and look into the eyes of a cow, a sheep, pig or chicken you recognise the same emotions that we humans feel. The nightmare that every animal goes through when being raised and then prepared for slaughter is not something I can be a part of.

Abigail and Luke promoting the Vegan lifestyle

The rest of the afternoon I spent walking around a talking with the other stallholders, sampling vegan treats and scoffing an amazing Jackfruit vegan cheeseburger. If you haven't tried one of these and you get a chance grab one, I highly recommend it.

For the sake of brevity (I've waffled enough), I'd like to thank all the organisers, speakers and fantastic musicians that took part in making this festival a memorable and informative event.

Special thanks to Mandy Bonehill for use of her camera and the use of her photos.
Please feel free to leave comments, your feedback is always valuable to me.
Please feel free to follow and share
John Hodges

For more information on any of the topics I've touched on, here is a list of websites and contacts:

Badger protection Groups and information
Blog - Badger Cull A State Sponsored Sadistic Genocide EXPOSED
Badger Trust West Midland

Dog Rescue

Big Cat Conservation
Tiger Awareness


#KillTheCull @WildlifeTrusts @ChrisPackham @BBCWildlife #WeWantWildlife @BBCSpringwatch @SupportBrianMay

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