Newsletter: May 2021

Hope you are having a great month!  Here we are again with some of our favourite news and general fabulousness from the vegan world.  There is so much terrific stuff going on right now, it’s hard to narrow it all down to squeeze into one newsletter!  To catch up with anything you may have missed, be sure to follow us on our Vegan FTA Facebook page too! For now, here are our picks.

This Month’s Wins

My Octopus Teacher wins Oscar for Best Documentary!

Hard to believe it’s been a year already since Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for Best Actor and made his legendary speech on stage in front of millions of viewers and listeners around the world.  This year marked another win for the animals, with the award for Best Documentary going to My Octopus Teacher! 

This heartwarming documentary revolves around the South African filmmaker Craig Foster, who befriends an octopus while exploring the watery depths beneath a kelp forest near Cape Town. Craig’s special relationship with the octopus taught him about life’s fragility and our collective connection with nature, and according to Craig, even helped him become a better father. 

If you have yet to see this beautiful film, you can watch it on Netflix.  It will make you smile and quite possibly make your eyes leak. Check out the trailer and our article about it!

Taiwan ends drowning and electroshock tests on animals

In a groundbreaking PETA victory, horrific drowning and electroshock tests on countless animals will no longer be conducted in Taiwan by companies wanting to make anti-fatigue marketing claims that consuming their food or beverage products may help consumers be less tired after exercising. After the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration received PETA’s detailed scientific critique, along with over 73,000 emails from PETA supporters, animal testing has now been removed as an option and only safe and effective human tests are required and allowed.  A fantastic win, but there is still more work to be done with the TFDA to help lab rats at risk and suffering in other sectors.  To learn more, including how you can help and read our article about it.

New Zealand bans live export – but not yet…

In April 2021, after enormous public pressure and the heartbreaking drownings of thousands of cows at sea, the New Zealand government finally agreed to put an end to live export.  Great news for the animals – but not until 2023.  The decision to ‘phase out’ live export over a two year period was made in consideration of farmers, who would be hard hit financially and result in ‘surplus stock’.  Currently, farmers who export their cattle receive up to $2,000 per cow and have been specifically breeding them to fill the demand in China.  

But what about the animals?  Even the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor admitted on national television programme ‘Sunday’ that he ‘didn’t know what happened to the animals overseas, but assumed they were looked after’.  The show carried out a months long investigation showing inside footage of a live cattle shipment.  In addition to the drownings, mass horrendous suffering was also revealed on a 2020 shipment, where 49 cows died during a voyage to China, with a further 19 killed after arrival.  With 110,000 cows sent overseas from New Zealand in 2020 and the numbers continuing to escalate, for the animals and for all those who care about them, two years is much too long.

On Saturday May 8th, activists from all across New Zealand conducted a national day of action.  Eleven cities took part in protest, urging the government to end live export now.  

Watch our exclusive Vegan FTA video of the protests and read our article!

Click here to tell the NZ government two years is too long.  

Joaquin Phoenix’s happy reunion with the cow and calf he rescued

In 2020, actor and vegan activist, Joaquin Phoenix went to the Manning Beef slaughterhouse in California.  Together with a group including fiancee Rooney Mara and Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur, he facilitated the rescue of a mother cow and her calf, which he named Liberty and Indigo after his sister and her child, who sadly passed away.  Liberty and Indigo were taken to Farm Sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives in peace.  One year on, Joaquin paid the pair of them a visit.  With the exception of carrying Indigo out from the slaughterhouse, which he did himself, Joaquin had never interacted with cows before.  In this touching and emotional film by Earthlings Director Shaun Monson, he talks openly about the harrowing rescue and the reunion 12 months later.  An absolute must-watch! Read more here.

Matt Pritchard completes epic row for the animals

He’s done it!  Our favourite TV chef and all-round awesome bloke, ‘Dirty Vegan’ Matt Pritchard has successfully rowed 3,200 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, from Lanzarote to Antigua, to raise money for animal sanctuary  Dean Farm Trust and men’s mental health charity, Humen.  Matt and the crew of four rowed for seven-and-a-half weeks, taking it in turns to row in four-hour shifts.  The trip wasn’t without its share of dramas, including a false start when the guys first set off, only to have to halt the voyage so the boat could get urgent repairs.  Matt was also forced to take a few days out from rowing towards the end of the trip, after pulling a lateral muscle and was laid up in agony with nothing but a few painkillers on board.  But they saw dolphins, turtles, marlin and many other unforgettable sights while at sea and at last Matt is home safe and happily reunited with his best pal, Lemmy.  What an amazing achievement and wonderful advocate for the animals.  We love Matt and look forward to chatting with him all about his experience once he’s got used to walking properly on land again!

Watch our ‘Activist’ interview with Matt Pritchard, ‘From Wildman to Vegan Man‘.

Sanctuary of the Month: Iowa Farm Sanctuary

Iowa Farm Sanctuary provides a safe haven to rescued farm animals in need of love and compassion, while providing humans the opportunity to experience the unique sentience and intelligence found within these animals.  Founded by Shawn and Jared Camp, their aim is to bring animal liberation, activism and awareness to the place it is needed most – Iowa, the epicentre of animal agriculture.  Together with their amazing multi-skilled team, the Farm Sanctuary is making a huge difference in opening eyes to the realities of animal agriculture, and opening hearts to the beauty and individuality of the animals who are trapped, abused and exploited within the industry.  

If you haven’t checked out their  Facebook page, make sure you give them a follow to keep up with all the goings-on at the sanctuary, but most of all, the gorgeous faces, heartwarming friendships and hilarious antics of the many animals who reside there.  There’s  Angel, the miniature Zebu calf who was born without the use of her back legs.  She doesn’t let that stop her though!  Dannie and Donnie, the inseparable brothers who were rescued from the dairy industry and brought back from the brink of death.  Adorable Pumpkin, best friend and ‘seeing eye’ cow of Ellie and Flower.  Wilma the pig, who fell from a transport truck along with others at just a few weeks old.  While the rest sadly perished, Wilma not only survived but thrives, despite losing most of her ears to frostbite.  Goats, sheep, chickens, roosters, ducks – so, so many animals enjoy a safe and happy life at Iowa Farm Sanctuary, and they  each have their own special and unique story.  

If you are lucky enough to live in or near Iowa, you can go and visit the animals on their Sanctuary Strolls, held every Sunday from May 16th to October 10th.  If not, there are plenty of ways you can support the sanctuary, from sponsoring an animals of your choice, to making a donation on their $5 Fridays, buying a sanctuary t-shirt or something from their Amazon wishlist.  This wonderful place and the people and animals in it are so deserving of our support.  Be sure to check them out on Instagram too, @iowafarmsanctuary!

Activists of the Month: North East Animal Rights (NEAR)

In the North East of England there is a brilliant group of animal rights activists called simply, North East Animal Rights.  They are one busy, busy bunch!  Despite spending so much time in lockdown until recently, they have continued to achieve so much and their following is growing fast as their work and tireless campaigning inspires others from all over the world.  Led by Anna, they have had fantastic results working with police and council in addressing the problem of seagull and pigeon shooting, educating the public and businesses what to do if they find an injured animal and making sure those who carry out these mindless shootings are held accountable and able to be prosecuted for their actions. 

Protecting birdlife and calling for an end to public sales of fireworks are just a couple of campaigns which keep the crew busy.  They collaborate together with many groups with terrific results, such as ‘Peace And Love Begin On Your Plate’, which aims to bring veganism to the forefront of churches’ priorities. They also do street outreach, attend vigils and protests, hold events and can often be found cleaning up their local beaches and countryside.  Their social media is no less diverse and interesting!  From online workshops and weekly Saturday Spotlight interviews, their Facebook and Instagram pages are full of tips, news, shining a spotlight on vegan businesses and product reviews and much, much more.  NEAR are a hugely positive bunch of people who are accomplishing so much.  Wherever you are in the world, they will be sure to inspire!

Check out more!

Exciting new Vegan FTA partners to announce!

Vegan FTA is excited to announce two new partners∆, whose work we love and admire and are proud to stand behind.  As an organisation, we firmly believe collaboration is key to our success as a movement.  Here at Vegan FTA, we have been fortunate enough to work with other organisations that share our beliefs and drive to see a vegan world for the animals. By creating partnerships, this has allowed us to work with specialists in different fields that further our joint goals and message as a movement by sharing our combined expertise.

The Vegan Review 

The Vegan Review is the ultimate digital platform for impartial and unbiased plant-based and vegan news. You’ll find topics and news on all things vegan and plant-based, including Lifestyle, Food, Fashion, Business & Politics, and Pop-Culture. Their website is easy to navigate, making it perfect for browsing with a cuppa and there are heaps of enjoyable snippets on their Facebook and Instagram.  

Despite only being launched in 2020, The Vegan Review has firmly established itself as an indispensable resource to keep up with everything going on in the vegan world.  What do we love about them?  Their diversity of subjects and in-depth interviews for one thing.  Their ability to bring readers news stories and interviews that no one else is covering for another.  Their willingness and passion for raising awareness of lesser known people and organisations doing important work and creating positive change in the movement, yet another.  What we love most of all about The Vegan Review however, is that their team of talented writers really go the extra mile to tell the best possible story and their efforts really show. Oh – and they are thoroughly nice people too!  Be sure to check them out.  


As we write this newsletter, VFC is celebrating a whopping 10,000 chickens lives being spared, in just four months since the UK-based launched it’s plant based, cruelty free alternative.  Their mouthwatering Vegan Fried Chick*n bundles can be delivered to homes anywhere in the UK and are also rapidly popping up in stores in other countries across the world.  We’re a huge fans of the Spicy Bites but they all taste great!  Founded by Veganuary’s Matthew Glover, together with chef Adam Lyons, the pair have a simple mission – to take on the chicken industry – and it’s working.  If you haven’t come across the brand yet, their social media pages are often hilarious, as the team deal with trolls who can’t get their heads around the fact it is actually possible to enjoy deep fried Southern chicken – without the chicken.  

However, they never lose sight of their ‘why’ – their reason for creating VFC in the first place and again, they share this in a very unique and impactful way.  In their video series, ‘Five Farms’, Matthew takes first well-known activist Joey Carbstrong undercover to visit a factory farm, followed by actress Evanna Lynch to witness the horrific reality of life (if you can call it that) of the majority of chickens raised for meat in the UK, and indeed around the world.  These short segments are hard to watch, but so important that people do watch and share.  Thanks to the team at VFC, the public are waking up. 

Your voice makes a difference!  Take action this month

Help end the Atlantic commercial sea hunt 

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been a tireless voice for the animals since 1969 and is asking their supporters and animal lovers to add their voices in asking the Government of Canada to show compassion for seals and stop funding cruelty.  The annual East Coast commercial seal hunt could start any day.  Baby seals are clubbed, beaten and shot for their pelts and this barbaric mass slaughter – the largest authorised slaughter of marine mammals on Earth – is paid for by the Canadian government, despite there being no scientific or economic benefit whatsoever. It’s time for the government to change course and instead invest in sustainable economic alternatives for those few remaining fishermen who still participate.  

IFAW have prepared an email template for those who are opposed to the seal hunt to send to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which you can personalise as you wish to make it more effective.  You can do this here.  

Help end the suffering of ducks in New Zealand

Every year on the first Saturday in May, bird shooting season begins in NZ.  The peaceful lakes and wetlands are disturbed by the sound of gunfire, resulting in the death and injury of countless birds. Ducks, geese, swan and pukeko are among the species considered ‘fair game’ by shooters. Native species such as paradise shelducks, which mate for life, are also shot, leaving their mates alone and heartbroken for the rest of their lives.

While some hunters use dogs to retrieve birds, many injured birds are never found and are left to die slow and painful deaths. International studies suggest that 20 to 40% of water birds that are hit by shotgun pellets are never retrieved. If even only 20% of the approximately one million birds shot in New Zealand each year are left crippled, this would equate to 200,000 birds suffering prolonged deaths.

Please help to end the suffering by signing the petition, demanding an end to this barbaric ‘sport’.

Check out: Tines for Change

As vegans, we love to wear our beliefs on the outside.  We adore vegan apparel and many of us have vegan tattoos.  Right now, the Vegan FTA team are loving Tines for Change jewellery for both men and women, made from something simple yet incredibly symbolic for all vegans – the table fork. Founder and designer Heather Wynn Millican says, 

‘A lot of people don’t think twice about this humble utensil, but when I pick one up, I am reminded that we have a choice to be kind. To me, it represents a promise to do better. We make choices each day about what is at the end of our forks. It can be a symbol of pain or we can choose to nourish not only our bodies but our hearts and minds. Tines for Change wares are created from sterling silver forks that have been pawned for their alloy. Each piece is handmade with care and no two are alike. The tines are cut, stamped, forged, and given new purpose. Tines for Change wares are meant to spark conversation and enable the wearer to share the truth behind what it means to live a truly compassionate life’.

All of Heather’s beautiful range is available to view and purchase from the Tines for Change website. Part of the proceeds from each sale is given to Animal Activist groups and individuals who share Heather’s love of animals and dedicate their time to advocating for their freedom.  The hardest part, is choosing which one we want to get first!

Grab a Vegan FTA t-shirt for summer!

Summer is on the way for our followers in the Northern Hemisphere and we’ve got just the gear for you!  Vegan FTA  has teamed up with our friends at Defender of Animals Clothing to bring you an exclusive range of t-shirts designed by us, as well as an awesome tote bag so you can carry us wherever you go!  They are fantastic and better yet, Defender of Animals is very kindly donating all profits from the sale of these unique products to Vegan FTA, to help us in the work we do.  All products are made from organic cotton and printed in the UK in a renewable energy powered factory.  Top quality apparel made by activists, for activists. Getting your hands on one (or more!) is only a click away!  Check out the order page here – and while you’re at it, be sure to check out the rest of their awesome designs too!

Become a Vegan FTA supporter!

Vegan FTA is currently completely unfunded and we need all the support we can get!  By becoming a Vegan FTA supporter, you can help to make our work even better and ensure its continuation. We have so many goals and dreams of bringing you the best possible and exclusive content over the coming year and beyond.  Here are some super easy ways you can help us achieve that:

However small your donation may be, any help you are able to offer Vegan FTA is hugely appreciated and keeps us going! Thank you!