Lives of their own to live

I watched a Timeshift documentary on BBC4 called ‘A Day at the Zoo‘. The experts commented lightheartedly on the early days of zoos, when you could hire a stick to prod the animals to make them do something of interest, when they used to feed them rum and buns, and when they used to live out their days behind bars in small concrete enclosures. Gerald Durrell used to procure for these zoos, but he soon noticed that the animals were dying and the zoos considered them replaceable commodities. So he stopped providing for them and instead changed the paradigm with his conservation zoo in Jersey. The punters began to feel uncomfortable with animals behind bars and the safari park was born. It then took a further while for people to cotton onto the fact that animal welfare isn’t all about space, and space can be territory which feels invaded when a bunch of cars drive through it. Andy Hall, the documentary’s director, gave the briefest possible airtime to Liz Tyson, director of the Captive Animals Protection Society. She was the only critic of zoos.

I’ll give her a bit more attention. If you wouldn’t visit a live animal circus, then don’t visit a live animal event this Christmas. And that goes for Ilford which has reindeer and penguins. So pledge not to visit any live animal events this Christmas time.

In today’s Metro was a feature on the loneliness of older people. The older I get the more conscious I become that society is organised around a productive workforce which, if not exactly valorised, is central and provided for first and foremost. The Equalities Act is a triumph of accessibility but it can’t in itself nourish the soul. Alert to animals in the media, I noticed a paragraph about a charity which brings dogs into contact with people with severely limiting conditions who live in care homes – this jumped out:

“She added: ‘The general public often shy away from the unattractive sight of old age and all that it brings. The dogs don’t mind what you look like, what you smell like, if you can speak to them or not, or if your hands don’t work properly.’”

This really confused me. As a surrogate for human contact it would be terribly sad. And I don’t get it – children foul themselves and are incompetent. Dogs themselves smell awful and like rolling in crap. What is going on here? That said, who wouldn’t want to cuddle with any friendly mammal, just for its own sake? But if I were older and alone this Christmas I’d prefer to go to Cafe 104 in Barkingside for Christmas cheer, laid on for me, for free. How generous. And they’ve always been vegan-friendly to me.


This is installment #14 of my ‘daily’ blogpost for World Vegan Month. In search of the winning formula I’ve departed from sections Consumption, Animals in the Media (formerly ‘News’), and Encounters – but how about I just do a quick recap.

Encounters. I was unsurprised that the Hamas has acquired a couple of trophy lion cubs and named them after things that kill Israelis. Pathetic. In other news mice have made a home on my floor, which is quite impressive given that hardly any of the building is in contact with the ground. Half the office is concerned about ‘infestation’ and ‘vermin’ and the other half is making trade unionist quips about their core hours of work and the need to use the bookable space system. I am trying to drop fewer crumbs, to make the place less attractive as a habitat.

Animals in the media. See above.

Consumption. Yesterday at Kings College London I had 6 bourbon creams followed by a lunch of crudites, houmous, pitta and olives in their own herbed oil. Just what I needed. And fruit. For breakfast I’d had a banana from M&S in Chancery Lane for 13p – I’d have paid more for Fairtrade. For dinner a Goodlife nut cutlet, red onion gravy with aforementioned freegan denatured seasoned cooking wine out of a box, carrots, frozen beans, frozen peas and small knobbly potatoes. More of the same for lunch today, packed up. And for breakfast I’m onto a new kilo of Sainsbury’s Fruit & Fibre, mixed with Co-op Maple and Pecan crunch cereal, which has become vegan. Then I accidentally ate a large bag of Co-op salt & vinegar chipsticks so dinner was a quarter of a cabbage, a carrot – both steamed – and a nut cutlet – no potatoes. Then some Green & Black lemon chocolate. I think it’s the cold. Tomorrow will be Vegetarian Choice sausages with more cabbage, carrot and potatoes. No time to chef it up – it’s tasty as it is, anyway.


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