The vegan taxidermist – is it possible?
It may surprise you to know that I support the vegan philosophy and have recently made the switch from vegetarianism to lead a vegan diet and lifestyle.
I made the decision after learning the truth about what consuming animal products does to the environment, our health and most importantly, what horrors these poor innocent animals endure just to give us a fleeting taste on our tastebuds.
‘Land of Hope and Glory’ really opened my eyes to the truth, as did ‘Cowspiracy’ which is another great documentary.Educate Yourself.
This means that I do not purchase or consume any products deriving from animals, including meat, dairy, eggs, leather, beauty products etc.
I don’t think that eating meat is entirely wrong, but the sheer quantities we eat it in and the way we exploit, enslave and abuse animals for it, is.
When we can survive and thrive on a plant based diet with no meat, eggs or dairy, killing animals for conveniently packaged flesh that we are so desensitised to is unnecessary.
I do not condone the slaughter of innocent animals that have a preference to live their lives in any situation, including ‘trophy hunting’. ‘Humane slaughter’ is the biggest oxymoron – how can an animal be humanely slaughtered when it wants to live? Can we humanely kill a person who doesn’t want to die?
When we buy meat, eggs and dairy, we’re essentially commissioning someone to murder an innocent being that didn’t want to die – this is something I cannot justify doing when I am privileged enough to choose from plenty of tasty, cruelty free alternatives readily available in all supermarkets.
Not only do these beautiful creatures we breed in to existence suffer in horrific ways unimaginable, the animal agriculture business is the worlds number one cause of greenhouse gases, leading to the destruction of the earth and extinction of many species.
Amongst the countless health benefits of a vegan diet, these are a few of the reasons why I live this vegan lifestyle:
For the animals, for the earth, for my health.
Be the change you want to see.
How I justify being a vegan taxidermist
Many vegans will absolutely not tolerate my taxidermy work and will claim that I ‘100% cannot be vegan‘ as I am ‘using’ animals in a ‘disrespectful manner’.
Here are my answers:
You can’t be vegan because you’re causing harm to animals.
No aspect of the work that I do contributes to the suffering of any sentient being, and I absolutely pride myself in that (apart from myself when I accidentally get formaldehyde in my eye or stab myself with the scalpel blade).
This is because NONE of the animals I work with are killed for the purpose of taxidermy – most of the specimens I work with are donated to me after being found in the country side or by the roadside as a result of accidental car strikes.
No, I cannot be certain they didn’t suffer terribly by the side of the road after being hit, but the point is, they didn’t suffer for my work. I did not wish for this to happen, I did not contribute to this animals suffering in any way and there’s nothing I could have done to prevent it.
“You’re not vegan – what you are doing is disrespectful to the animal!”
Wether preserving an animals remains without their permission is deemed moral or not, that’s up to you to decide. But in my personal opinion, once a sentient beings’ soul has departed, they’re gone.
All that is left is an empty shell that once represented them, which is free to the earth once more – just like my shell will be some day. You can’t exploit or cause harm something that isn’t sentient, just like you can’t exploit or cause harm to an apple.
Personally, if I knew my body could continue to help others, inspire people and leave them in awe once I have departed the earth it would make me so happy. I know you’re thinking it..I’ll tell you! What I would love, is a sky burial (google it, but don’t if you’re squeamish) – donating my body to vultures, lammergeiers in particular, one of my favourite birds!
People donate their bodies and organs to science and education after death all the time, take Gunther Von Hagens ‘Body Worlds’ for example. People donate their bodies to be plastinated and preserved – hugely educational, inspiring to others and just plain amazing! I feel it’s absolutely no different with taxidermy, using deceased animals that have not suffered for historical and educational purposes.
I am actively helping wildlife
Sharing the same philosophy as vegan activists – I go out of my way to help animals and wildlife. Although I am limited to what I can physically do due to my chronic health conditions, I do this by volunteering at local nature reserves and donating at least 10 percent of every sale I make from my ethically sourced taxidermy to various charities, such as the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.
I like to think the beautiful animals I work with are leaving a legacy and are contributing to helping wildlife and the environment through their preserved beauty.
Taxidermy gives people a chance to be up close and personal with animals that surround them that they may just take for granted. Having this experience can inspire people to look out for our vulnerable wildlife in this ever fragile world that we are loosing a part of each day.
Another thing to note is by removing roadkill from the immediate roadside, I am reducing the risk of other animals being killed by traffic – especially birds of prey that feed on carrion close to the road that can easily get caught in the slipstream of speeding traffic.
As I only use the skin in taxidermy, I return the meat to a safe place in the countryside where predatory and opportunistic species can safely feed.
I support wildlife conservation
I hugely support wildlife conservation and I’m always keeping up to date with the latest campaigns and think about how can my actions contribute to helping species in jeopardy?
Example: I will no longer be accepting Red Grouse commissions as the management of uplands is just completely unsustainable and something I do not support at all. The practices is leading to the rapid decline of Hen Harriers and other birds of prey because they are being illegally shot, trapped and killed as they are seen as a threat to livestock, (which are going to be slaughtered in huge numbers for human pleasure anyway) not to mention the extensive amount of predator control taking place.
Since being a taxidermist, I have a vast knowledge of wildlife laws. This allows me to pick up on any illegal activity, such as the sales of protected species on the internet, which of course I report to the relevant authorities.
Research + Data
I donate the skinned carcasses of birds of prey to the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme which allows researchers to gather various data which can create a bigger picture about the population and health status of certain birds. They also monitor the amount of lead found in birds from lead entering the food chain from game shoots. You can see how this can lead to legal action to stop lead pellets being used to protect our wildlife.
Conclusion – am I vegan?
You can use the information I have provided and take my personal opinions and actions in to account to make up your own decision.
The bottom line is, I am trying my hardest to lead the most ethical, environmentally friendly lifestyle possible.
I have a clean conscience now that I am not contributing to the meat, dairy and eggs industry or cruelty to animals, the environment will thank me, too.
That’s ‘vegan’ enough for me 🙂