Japan Dolphin Day

Today is Japan Dolphin Day and more than 16,000 people are joining 117 events all over the world to raise awareness of the annual dolphin hunting season that started on September 1st in Taiji, Japan.

dolphin sign

Every year, thousands of dolphins are captured and slaughtered in Taiji, by a small group of fishermen. For too long, this information was kept from the Japanese public and the rest of the world. The Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, brought the horrors to light a few years ago.

dolphin demo

We marched from Westlake Plaza, an outdoor square in downtown Seattle, to the Japanese Consulate a few blocks away. At the consulate, we held signs for passers-by and handed out literature to raise awareness of the issue. Some people knew, others were shocked by what they learned.

dolphin slaughter protest

Dolphin meat isn’t a profitable venture, but the fishermen in Taiji can make a killing by selling live dolphins to marine parks around the world. For every performing dolphin, 17 of his friends and family are killed. Incredibly, dolphin trainers are in the boats with fishermen, picking the best candidates for marine parks. The rest are slaughtered.

protesters at Japan Dolphin Day

Dolphin meat, isn’t healthy or safe (it’s loaded with mercury and PCBs) but it’s distributed to children in the school lunch program anyway.

Japanese Consulate

The Japanese public hadn’t been aware of these atrocities until recently. Now that they know, they’re starting to do something. Brave activists from Japan and other countries are in Taiji now, protesting the slaughter. It’s especially significant that concerned Japanese are joining the efforts. Their culture doesn’t encourage speaking one’s mind, protesting in the streets, and questioning the government. But they are, and I applaud them.

Jean and Claudine

Back in Seattle, far from Taiji, we showed our support for the activists in Japan and let the Japanese government know that we do not condone this abuse of our friends of the sea.


dolphin collage


March to close all slaughterhouses

This past Saturday, several cities around the world marched to close all slaughterhouses: Paris, Toulouse, London, Istanbul, Houston, San Diego, Zagreb, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Perth, Florence, and Toronto. My mom joined in the Toronto march.

vegan women

Compassionate protesters (my 61-year-old mom is on the right — her first demo!)

The Toronto march started at a city park, wove through the streets and ended at one of Toronto’s slaughterhouses (it’s not called Hogtown for nothing). I imagine emotions ran high at the site of the building where 6000 pigs die each weekday.

The march was organized with four tenets:

  • Because oppression, living conditions and slaughter cause immense suffering to animals
  • Because meat production is destroying our planet and our health
  • Because eating animal products is not necessary
  • Because sentient beings should not intentionally be mistreated or killed

The food industry is the largest contributor of animal exploitation, abuse and death but most people condone it through their dollars and their diets. The abuse goes on behind closed doors–literally. We’re not supposed to see it.

MTCAS demo

The marchers show what the meat industry tries to hide

Animals raised for food have a nightmarish existence. Confined, castrated, de-horned, debeaked, injected with hormones and antibiotics, and finally shipped to a house of horrors, where they see, hear, and smell other animals dying all around them before they too are killed.

The animal rights movement is part of a greater social justice movement. People need to speak up for injustices, and that’s exactly what they did on June 15th, all around the world. They marched to raise awareness and be a voice for the voiceless.

Robert Caine and my mom

Speaker Robert Caine and my mom met after the march

When we stop viewing animals as commodities and start seeing them as individuals with the right to live free from exploitation, it’s a no-brainer.


A memorial to slaughtered animals marked the entrance to the slaughterhouse

The best part about this cause is that the solution is right in front of us. It’s healthy and delicious and easy to do: adopt a plant-based diet.

vegan friends

The people in the march were a cross-section of society. They came from all classes, ages, genders, political leanings and beliefs. Animal abuse is something everyone can do something about.

a little protester

Compassion starts at a young age–don’t suppress it!

Each year, 60 billion land animals and 1,000 billion water animals are killed for humans. It’s staggering to think about. It’s cruel and unnecessary. By changing to a vegan diet you can save about 100 animals a year. This makes a difference. It adds up. Animals matter.

new friends

The message is simple and powerful: Go vegan!

I hope Seattle has a march next year so I can join too and speak up for those who can’t.

Protesting primate research at the UW

This past Saturday The Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) held a demo outside the University of Washington National Primate Research Center. We organized the event to coincide with World Week for Animals in Labs.

Hidden inside this dark, unmarked building, 700 primates live and die for research, subjected to painful surgeries and traumatic procedures until they aren’t useful anymore. The Blue Building at 3000 Western Avenue downtown Seattle is the main facility for the UW National Primate Research Center, the largest of eight across the country.

About a dozen of us spent a few hours with signs and fliers and shared info with passers-by. Many people were shocked to learn that wasteful and cruel experiments were happening in their neighborhood. The beautiful Seattle sculpture park is across the street, and no one suspects cruelty is around them.

blue building

The University of Washington spends millions of taxpayer dollars conducting needless tests that haven’t resulted in any contribution to humans or animals. Harvard recently decided to close its primate research center and it’s time for UW to do the same.

The UW has even been cited with safety and cruelty violations including performing unauthorized surgeries and letting a monkey starve to death. The university breeds monkeys too and removes babies from their mothers soon after they’re born.

wwail collage - group photo by Pam Pulver

We demo to let the public know about these atrocities but we also demo to let animal abusers know their deeds aren’t going unnoticed. As I’ve written about before, animal research isn’t good science.

What can you do?

Send a polite letter requesting the UW reevaluate its policies regarding animal experimentation and commit to long-term reduction of the use of any animals for science.

Michael Young, President
301 Gerberding Hall, Box 351230
Seattle, WA 98195

The University of Washington Board of Regents
139 Gerberding Hall, Box 351264
Seattle, WA 98195-1264

If you’re a UW grad, you can also contact the alumni association and tell them that you won’t join them (or that you’ll be cancelling your membership) unless the university agrees not to use live animals in their research.

UW Alumni association Box 359508
Seattle, WA 98195-9508
206-543-0540 or 1-800-AUW-ALUM

Anti-fur protest at Nordstrom

Protesting on a busy sidewalk with a sign in my hands takes me a bit out of my comfort zone. But compared to the torture and horrendous deaths millions of fur-bearing animals face every year, what’s slight discomfort?


Last Saturday, I joined a dozen or so like-minded people at an anti-fur protest in front of the Nordstrom flagship store in Seattle. The event was organized by Action for Animals.

action for animals

I’m somewhat surprised that in 2013 there’s still a need for an anti-fur demonstration. Don’t people know better? Maybe they do, but do they care? Farmed fur animals gassed, poisoned, or genitally electrocuted. Wild-caught animals suffer for days in traps and break bones and teeth trying to free themselves.

fur is dead

Many of the passerbys nodded in agreement and some thanked us for speaking up. I didn’t see anyone in fur coats–just a faux fur vest and some trim on hoods that I hope was fake.

We protested to raise awareness. As consumers, we vote with our dollars. I’ve shopped at Nordstrom before but from now on I won’t be supporting businesses that sell fur. Luckily, there are loads of other stores that don’t sell fur, as you can see on this handy list.

Tell Nordstrom you won’t shop there either until they stop selling fur. Here’s a petition you can sign and a sample letter. As much as I want all businesses to be ethical “on their own,” it’s usually about the bottom line. If people don’t support cruelty, stores will have to change their business strategies.


Margo looks good in fur. People don’t!


Protesting Dolphin Slaughter

A couple of weeks ago, February 22nd to be precise, I took a long lunch break and drove to the Consulate of Japan in Seattle’s downtown core, and stood in the wind and rain with a sign and a stack of pamphlets.

Seems like an odd way to spend lunch, but I was there with a dedicated group of people to stand up to injustice. If you’ve seen the documentary The Cove, you know all about the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

dolphin protest

In Taiji, a village in Japan, a group of fishermen round up thousands of dolphins every year. Dolphin families are separated for the main goal of finding a few suitable candidates for marine parks. Selling a dolphin to a SeaWorld-type place is lucrative business. A life of slavery is no life at all. But the ones who don’t make the cut are slaughtered. The normally blue water turns red with the blood of dolphins as families of cetaceans watch each other die.

The rest of the animals are sold for meat (dolphin meat is intentionally mislabeled and sold in supermarkets) despite the high mercury content.

The Taiji Day of Action was a global event, and even though we were only a dozen strong, other groups all over the world were also protesting the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. We were targeting the Japanese Consulate and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because the IOC is considering Tokyo as an Olympic host city in 2020. We say stop the slaughter or lose the bid!

dolphin banner

No country is innocent. Canada slaughters seals, Spain conducts gruesome bullfights, animals are killed for food in every place on earth. But since the Olympics (and the money the games bring in) are part of the equation, there’s more leverage. It’s not an anti-Japanese cause. It’s a pro-animal one. In fact, Japan has a growing animal rights movement and I believe change will happen “from the inside.” Japanese people were once unaware of the slaughter, but now most disagree with it and some are even protesting it!

Want to help? Here’s a petition that you can sign.