Sunday, February 20, 2011

All Creatures, Great And Small

"Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money."
- Cree Saying

I have a T-Shirt with this saying on it that I got in Costa Rica in 2002. I went on an 11 day Eco trip with my High School's Environmental Club the day after I graduated. It was spectacular. But that's not the subject of this post...this is:

I don't get political here very often. When I do it is because I feel very strongly about something. However, an issue recently came up that I feel compelled to discuss.

This year, Japan's whaling fleet went back to port early with only a fifth of their 900 minke whale quota. These whales are on a threatened species list, but Japan gets around the laws by claiming that the meat is not ONLY for eating, but that they are conducting scientific research. They claim their research involves tracking stats like size, stomach contents, age, etc.

I learned about the whaling battle several years ago through a TV show called "Whale Wars". I was immediately disgusted with the Japanese fleet and inspired by Sea Shepherd, the anti-whaling organization featured on the show. Their goal is to prevent the whaling fleet from killing whales by harassing the Japanese ships. They use things like stink bombs and prop foulers on the fleet. On the show, the Japanese fleet can be seen harpooning whales, bringing them up on deck, and immediately beginning to process the meat (along with some very violent behavior toward Sea Shepherd). The process of removing the whale meat is incredibly fast, begging the question of when they have time to do their "scientific research".

Anyway, you can learn more about the whaling battle in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica on many websites. You can learn about why Japan eats whale meat and how they circumvent International Conservation Laws. The important news extends past this year's early retreat by Japan. Apparently, Japan has a stockpile of whale meat meaning there is less demand (which points out that this is based on money, not research). Also, the Japanese are becoming more aware of the whaling battle and are increasingly disinterested in eating whale meat. These two factors in combination mean it is possible that Japan may not return to whaling next year.

On the day I heard of Japan's retreat (now called VSO Day by Sea Shepherd for "Victory in the Southern Ocean") I Tweeted this:

"Japan has STOPPED WHALING!!! It's wonderful to see the good guys
come out on top! Thank you Sea Shepherd. The whales thank you."

A little while later, I received this reply from someone I suspect is Japanese based on syntax:

"Why do U support the violence? In your country, U don't mind hurting
human? Paul Watson [Sea Shepherd founder and captain] is dishonest,
not a hero. SS fuel the fire."

I was initially hesitant to repeat the comment, not wanting to reward negative behavior. But I wanted to comment on it. First, I don't think that the U.S. promotes killing people. We are certainly not perfect and have high gun violence rates and state sanctioned capital punishment, but we don't condone random murder. Second, I'm not supporting the violence. Hello?! That's the point. Finally, whatever your opinion about Capt. Watson's tactics, they are not "fueling the fire". Without Sea Shepherd there would be no opposition to the whalers. Therefore they are not so much "fueling the fire" as "leading the charge".

I'm honestly happy that the citizens of Japan are beginning to see the whaling industry as wrong and worrying about how it affects Japan's image. I also know that America isn't in the clear. We may not kill and eat threatened species, but our meat processing industries are far from humane. This weighs heavily on me. I feel like I need to put my money where my mouth is. So this post is also going to serve as an announcement. Starting today, 2.20.2011, I am no longer going to eat meat or meat products. This is a personal decision and I don't judge those who choose to eat meat.

You readers have been so uplifting and supportive. I wanted to share this with you so I can document my Vegetarian Journey here and be honest about its impact on my life. I'm also going to need a running name for this journey. Any ideas? Something like "The Veggie Diaries" or "The Devil Eats Cucumbers". Many thanks, dear readers, for your willingness to sit through this never-ending post.

1 comments to blog for:

Charlotte said...

Good for you for joining the veggie revolution (hey, maybe that could be your new journey!). I'm going on 14 years now as a veggie (though I fluctuate between eating fish and keeping it out of my diet entirely). This lifestyle choice leaves me with more energy than I ever could have imagined! There are also great resources available to help you get started: I love Alicia Silverstone's new book as well as Vegetarian Times.

Good luck! (Also, I think your reason for going veg is very commendable. The whale wars are just one example of inhumane animal practices--but I don't want to get preachy here!).