Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

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What's Wrong with Wool?

question.gif - 1.4 K Is wool considered non-vegan? I have several woollen sweaters and a winter coat.

answer.gif - 1.3 K On the surface, it appears that wool is a benign product because, at least theoretically, it can be obtained without harming the sheep. However, upon closer inspection, we find that the wool industry is actually very similar to the egg and dairy industries. While animals such as laying hens, dairy cows, and wool-bearing sheep are not immediately killed to procure their salable products, they suffer tremendously for years prior to their ultimate and unavoidable slaughter.

Most people believe that sheep are overburdened with too much wool and therefore need to be shorn. Although today's wool-bearing sheep have thick, heavy coats, it is the result of selective breeding over thousands of years. These animals are descended from wild mountain sheep, still found in some remote regions of the world, which shed their fine woolly hair naturally. Wool provides sheep with warmth and protection from inclement weather and sunburn. Because our "modern" wool-bearers are extremely vulnerable to the elements without their wool, many sheep die of exposure shortly after being denuded.

From the earliest of times there was complicity in the use of wool. Merinos, which were originally from Spain, are the most efficient wool producers. Mutton breeds, which primarily originated in England, are used predominately for meat. Cross-breeds are raised for the dual purpose of meat and wool. Nevertheless, Merinos also yield mutton and mutton breeds also yield wool. No sheep escapes either function; it is just a matter of emphasis. Essentially, all wool is a slaughterhouse product.

Wool is classed as either "shorn wool," that which is shorn from sheep annually, or "pulled wool," that which is taken from sheep at the time of slaughter. Horrors abound on sheep farms, including mutilating, painful surgical procedures that are performed without anesthesia. These entail mulesing, the cutting of large strips of flesh off the hind legs to reduce fly problems, and tail docking, designed to preserve the salable condition of wool surrounding a sheep's anus, among others. A large percentage of the world's wool is produced from Merinos exported from Australia. These sheep are crammed onto ships by the tens of thousands, crowded into filthy pens, and packed so tightly they can barely move. As a result, thousands of sheep die each year from suffocation, trampling, or starvation.

Sheep shearers are paid by piece rate, meaning that speed not precision guides the process. Consequently, most sheep are roughly handled, lacerated, and injured during the process. The production of wool, as with all industries that consider animals as mere commodities, is rife with cruelty and abuse. In addition, the purchase of wool supports the continual slaughter of millions of lambs and sheep each year.

Vegans do not use wool or any other materials obtained from animals. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to wool that are cruelty-free, nonallergenic, quick-drying, easy to clean, environmentally-sound, and provide warmth without bulk. Therefore, for most new vegans, the question is usually not what can they substitute for wool but what should they do with the woollen items they already own. In many instances, this is a matter of economics.

It can become cost prohibitive to replace an entire wardrobe of sweaters, slacks, suits, and coats all at once. Some new vegans continue to wear their wool clothing until it wears out and then replace it with non-woollen items piecemeal. Others feel that wearing woollen garments, regardless of how old they may be, lends credence to their acceptability. Often new vegans sell their animal-based attire to thrift shops or donate items to shelters for homeless or battered people. Some people choose to donate any money they collect from the sale of their old animal based goods to charitable organizations that support vegan-related causes. What you do with your woollen clothing is a matter of personal choice. There are many conscionable options that can help align your apparel with your ethics.




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The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

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The Food Allergy
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