A Birthday Surprise – VEGAN VOICES writer Ingrid Newkirk

Next in our series on the writers of “VEGAN VOICES –  Essays by Inspiring Changemakers”, is Ingrid Newkirk.  

Ingrid Newkirk is the founder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PETA), the largest animal rights organisation in the world with more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide.  She is the author of more than a dozen books that have been translated into several languages, her latest being Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways To Show Them Compassion.

Extract from her essay in Vegan Voices:
“We were at the fanciest restaurant that served lobster in the Philadelphia area, and we had driven hours to get there. It was my birthday, and I can’t remember now if I was turning twenty or somewhere around there. The place was gorgeous – that I do remember – and the evening was perfect. White wine, freshly baked bread, candles, white linen, soft music, and the man I loved beside me. We ordered the lobster.
The next thing I recall is the waiter arriving with a silver salver, on which there were three lobsters to choose from.  They waved their antennae in our direction, but I thought nothing of it.  I didn’t know then that lobsters flirt, hold hands to guide each other across the ocean floor, and live to be decades old.  I didn’t know what my next words would mean to the one I gestured towards as I said, in answer to the question, “Broiled or boiled?”  “Broiled, please.” “



Review of Vegan Voices by Bruce Friedrich, Co-founder & Executive Director, The Good Food Institute:

“There are as many reasons to be vegan as there are vegans, as this lovely anthology makes clear. So many of my heroes in one place—what a treat. Read it and be inspired.”


Vegan Voices: Essays by Inspiring Changemakers
Available at Lantern Publishing & Media

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59056-650-3
eBook ISBN: 978-1-59056-651-0


Cephalopods (octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus) appear alien to us, yet they possess remarkable intelligence,  cunning ways, curiosity and affection.  


Their cognitive abilities and complex thinking patterns are still being investigated by scientists.  In a recent study cuttlefish show that they also are able to delay their gratification.  


Read the Mercy For Animals article here



The Suffering Of Marvellous Fish

For some years now the scientific concensus has been that fish feel pain.  At the anatomical level, fish have neurons known as nociceptors, which detect potential harm, such as high temperatures, intense pressure, and caustic chemicals. They also produce the same opioids—the body’s innate painkillers—that mammals do.   All over the world, every moment of every day, untold individual fishes suffer panic and undergo painful death through suffocation and injury because of our taste buds.

There are now widely available substitutes that mimic the texture and flavour of fish.  There is no longer any excuse for torturing the denizens of the Ocean in order to eat them.  Eating fish and other ‘seafood’ is also causing harm to sea mammals and marine ecosystems.  

Read about scientific findings on fish sentience and complex behaviour in this Free From Harm article.

Fish Feel! What the documentary ‘Seaspiracy’ Has Taught Us.

The important documentary by filmmaker Ali Tabrizi is swearing people off eating fish.  One of the most important reasons for this is that fish are sentient.

‘Each fish is an individual with a unique personality and the desire to live. Fish experience pain in a way similar to humans, communicate in complex ways (herrings, for example, signal each other by farting), and can feel fear.

So, when massive commercial-fishing nets rip the animals from their homes, pack them so tightly that their eyes may burst out of their skulls, drag their sensitive scales along the ocean floor, and force them to undergo decompression—which often ruptures their bladders and pushes their stomachs out of their mouths—fish likely experience an excruciating, terrifying journey to the surface. Then, if they are still alive, fishers often cut their gills and leave them to bleed out or toss them onto ice to freeze or suffocate slowly. You wouldn’t want to be kicked, thrown, suffocated, or hacked to death on a chopping block—and neither do they.’

Read the PETA article here:

Watch Seaspiracy on Netflix

‘Seaspiracy’: A Shocking Indictment of the Commercial Fishing Industry

In this breathtaking new Netflix documentary, film makers Ali and Lucy Tabrizi take us on a journey to Europe and Asia in an investigation that reveals how commercial fishing is implicated in the depopulation and degradation of our oceans, and animal suffering.


Their findings:
  • Single-use plastic dumped into the ocean is killing whales and other animals, but much more sealife is endangered because of discarded commercial fishing gear.
  • Taiji,  the infamous Japanese cove where dolphins are massacred and captured in a bloodbath every year, is not primarily done for meat, but to supply the dolphinarium industry, and because dolphins and whales kill fish that commercial fishermen want.
  • The most expensive fish in the world, bluefin tuna, is critically endangered because of overfishing.
  • Most dolphins and whales killed globally is because of by-catch.
  • Sharks are killed because of their fins, but the market for this is mainly Asia.  Populations all over the world are dwindling because they get caught up in fishing nets and trawlers.
  • Removing apex predators like whales and sharks from the oceans is contributing to global warming as well as fish decline.
  • Organisations who advocate for our sea life may be in the pockets of the Commercial Fishing industry.
Watch the trailer here

It’s Time For A Sea Change In Our Thinking About Fishes

We slaughter fish in their trillions every year, and force them to lead lives of prolonged suffering in aquaculture operations.   The majority of scientists now agree that fish are sentient, but what about their intelligence? 

Because they live in an environment that humans could not survive in, we tend to view marine life as ‘alien’, and not as intelligent as land animals.  But fishes are much more like us than we think.  

In his fascinating book ‘What A Fish Knows: The Inner Lives Of Our Underwater Cousins‘, ethologist and author Johnathan Balcombe challenges our assumptions about fishes, and asks his readers to take a more enlightened view of Earthlings who live in the sea.  


Read more information here


Watch the video on humanedecisions.com


A Sea Of Suffering: The Cruel Reality Of Salmon Farming

In the aquaculture industry, animals live in disgusting and stressful conditions, and are often fully conscious during slaughter and die a slow, painful death as they bleed out or suffocate. 

Yet another investigation has recently revealed a salmon farm carrying out appalling animal cruelty committed by workers, who slam fish to the ground or stomp on them in an attempt to kill them, toss them roughly, and leave them to suffocate in piles.


Links to various articles on the cruelty of salmon farming:

Animal Equality’s undercover investigation of a salmon company that supplies major U.K. supermarkets and exports to the U.S. and over 20 other countries found:   “Fish being left to die slowly on the floor after falling or being thrown off a crowded, blood-drenched slaughter unit. Salmon are clubbed up to seven times after a stunning machine fails to render them unconscious. Workers use their fingers to tear their gills”
Seventy world-leading animal welfare experts, academics and animal protection organisations have signed on to Animal Equality’s open letter “urging UK governments to put in place meaningful, specific protections for aquatic animals at the time of slaughter.”
“’Police Scotland, the Scottish SPCA, the Royal SPCA Assured scheme and retailers who sell salmon from the many floating factory farms in Scottish waters are all implicated in allowing this cruelty to go on, perhaps for the last forty years.’”

There is only one way to stop the unimaginable suffering of sentient fish.    Leave fish off your plate and opt for plant-based, cruelty-free foods instead.

The Invisible Threat To Our Ocean Wildlife: Noise Pollution

Over the past 50 years increased human activity in the oceans has escalated noise pollution affecting, sometimes catastrophically, animals who live in the sea.  Recent studies suggest that noise pollution can harm whales and dolphins directly by driving them away, disrupting their social patterns, damaging their hearing, and even causing internal bleeding and death.   Naval sonar systems, shipping, deep-sea fishing, and the construction and operation of oil rigs are among the contributors to the increasing amount of noise pollution in our oceans. 

(Feature photo credit, We Animals Media)


Read The Guardian Environment article here