Oxford Vegan Market, Sunday 21 January

The Oxford Vegan Market will be held in Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford, on Sunday 21 January, 10.30am-4.30pm.  The Market will be packed with stalls selling a huge a variety of vegan products, including everything from amazing vegan food to luxury vegan cosmetics and from ethical clothing to interesting charities. Admission £2 (children under 12 free).  Organised by Earth Events Limited.  Details at: https://www.veganmarkets.co.uk/oxford.

Paul Appleby

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Pam Hopcraft (1930-2017)

We are sorry to report the passing of OxVeg supporter and committee member Pam Hopcraft on 28 November 2017, aged 87.  Pam was a lifelong campaigner for peace and environmental issues (a founder member of Oxford Friends of the Earth and a leading figure in Campaign Atom, the forerunner to Oxford CND).  Her steadfast principles were an inspiration to the many people who knew her.  In the last decade of her life Pam was a regular helper on the OxVeg stall at local events such as the Oxford Green Fair, selling home made jams and chutneys and her ever-popular Sosmix rolls.  The OxVeg stall at the Green Fair held on 2 December 2017 was dedicated to her memory.

Paul Appleby

Impressions of the Oxford Vegan Festival (part 2)

The second Oxford Vegan Festival of 2017 was held at the Kassam Stadium Conference and Events Centre on Saturday 18 November.  Here, OxVeg media rep Paul Freestone gives his impressions of the event.

The Festival wasn’t as well attended as the previous one in March. However, the numbers still seemed very good and the weather on the day was appalling, which I’m sure had an effect. Here are some things I didn’t like:

1 As you walked into the foyer there was an overwhelming (and quite unpleasant) smell of fried onions. This was from the burger bar. It reminded me of Wimpy bars in the 1960s. 
2 At the last event I bought some mushroom pies, and they weren’t very good. This time I tried a slice of spinach pie, and it was awful. It was so chewy it tasted like cardboard. I’m amazed that food stalls at an event like this can sell such poor quality items. Some of the other stalls had items that looked delicious, but these had longish queues so I opted for the quicker service. I also bought a piece of choc torte: this was fantastic but so rich.
3 There was a repetition of the March programme, as well as some new talks. This is a very slight criticism because films such as Cowspiracy are worth seeing more than once. Also, some attendees will have missed the first event or (if there) didn’t catch the repeated talks and films first time around. 
4 The venue is awful, and is even worse on a miserable day. However, there is masses of free parking and I’m guessing that the public transport links to other parts of Oxford are good. 

Animal Aid Christmas Fayre

The Animal Aid Christmas Fayre celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.  The Fayre will feature more than 100 stalls, 4 vegan cafés, a prize draw and a Lush zone where you can make your own product.  Award-winning comedian Dave Chawner brings his C’est la Vegan show to the Fayre, and there will be a talk by TV Presenter and animal welfare campaigner Wendy Turner Webster.  The Fayre takes place on Sunday 3 December, 10am to 5pm, at Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London, W8 7NX.  Admission costs £3, with free entry for under 11s.  Details at: https://www.animalaid.org.uk/events/animal-aids-christmas-fayre/.

Paul Appleby

Book review: Wild Boar by Dorothy Yamamoto

Wild Boar by Dorothy Yamamoto, Reaktion Books, 200 pp, pbk, 108 illustrations, 85 in colour; ISBN 978-1-78023-761-9, £12-95

Wild Boar is among the newest of 84 titles published by Reaktion Books in their Animal series. The series covers a host of animals, birds and insects, from Albatross and Ant to Wolf and Woodpecker, and this new book is a fascinating addition. Dorothy Yamamoto’s book traces the story of wild boar through history, myth and art, painting a picture of a much-persecuted animal that has made a huge impact on humanity. From paintings dating from the Upper Paleolithic era, to the 2014 film The Hunt for Hogzilla, the book is packed with numerous examples of the use and abuse of wild boar and the manifold records of human interaction with the Sus scrofa species.

Hunted to the point of extinction in Britain, wild boar have had a long and difficult relationship with humans who have relied on them for food, hunted them for sport, and regarded them as formidable adversaries. Humans throughout history have considered wild boar as ferocious combatants who must be overpowered. Killing a wild boar has been seen as the mark of a hero, who must contend with a large and dangerous animal that may well inflict serious injury with a swift jab of its deadly tusks. However, human nature is often characterised by an ability to apply double standards, and the boar’s status as a much sought-after trophy has been accompanied by a level of respect accorded by humans to other warriors.

Unfortunately, the majority of the stories end with the demise of the wild boar, leaving anyone who is concerned about the rights of animals with an uncomfortable sense of guilt. Throughout history, the size and strength of the boar, and the severe injuries often inflicted on humans and hunting dogs, have made boar-hunting a challenge, with humans and legendary heroes seeking to demonstrate their prowess by outwitting and overcoming these naturally shy animals. Environmental activist and writer George Monbiot is quoted as suggesting that British people have “an unusually intense fear of wild animals”, although the book makes it clear that it isn’t just the British that are to blame, citing examples of hunting in other parts of Europe, Japan and Turkey.

There are a few more upbeat tales, such as Hans Christian Anderson’s The Bronze Boar, which involves a boar taking a small boy for a magical ride on his back across the city of Florence. Wild Boar ends with details of the reintroduction of the species to the UK and the surge in boar numbers in Germany. However, despite successful reintroduction in areas including the Forest of Dean, there is still a tension between these animals and humans who perceive them as dangerous and believe that regular culling is necessary to keep the populations at ‘appropriate’ levels.

Wild Boar is clearly the result of a huge amount of research, and its manifold examples and illustrations make it a book that will appeal to anyone with an interest in myth, legend, history or art, as well as those with an interest in animals. In addition, it will appeal to Oxford-based readers, as it has various Oxford links and references. For example, Queen’s College has celebrated the Boar’s Head Feast since at least 1395. A decorated boar’s head is carried into the hall, accompanied by the College choir singing the Boar’s Head Carol. Although a real boar’s head was traditionally used for this celebration, post-World War II austerity necessitated the use of a papier mâché model. Other Oxford-related stories include the tale of a student who used his copy of Aristotle to fend off a wild boar who attacked him in Shotover woods.

The author is a freelance writer and editor based in Oxford. She has a particular interest in cultural constructions of the relationship between humans and animals. Other books by Dorothy Yamamoto include Guinea Pig (also in the Animal series) and Animals on the Agenda, a collection of studies on animals and theology co-edited with Revd Prof Andrew Linzey, co-founder and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

Anne Orgée

Oxford Vegan Festival 2017 (part 2)

After a successful inaugural event in March 2017 the Oxford Vegan Festival makes a return visit to the Kassam Stadium Conference and Events Centre, Oxford, OX4 4XP, on Saturday 18 November, 10.30am-5pm. Organised by Farplace Animal Rescue (http://www.farplace.co.uk/), entry costs £3 on the day or in advance, and is free for under 16s. VIP tickets (limited to 100) with goodie bags are available for £15 and give priority early entry. Details at: http://www.oxfordveganfestival.com/. The Festival programme was not available at the time of this posting, but OxVeg media rep Paul Freestone will give an updated version of his Brief History of Vegetarianism & Veganism talk at the event.

Paul Appleby

The vegetarian hero of Hacksaw Ridge

Recently, I watched the DVD of the 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson. The film, which won two Oscars at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony, tells the story of Desmond Doss (1919-2006; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Doss), an American combat medic who became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the US Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Second World War Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Despite his refusal to carry a weapon into combat, Doss rescued an estimated 75 wounded soldiers during the battle, “carrying them one by one to the edge of the (Hacksaw Ridge) escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands.”

The film barely mentions the fact that Desmond Doss was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a vegetarian (in one scene, whilst sheltering in a foxhole Doss happily passes a tin of meat rations to a comrade who realises that the medic won’t be eating it). In recognition of his lifelong commitment to vegetarianism, the animal rights group PETA rewarded Doss with a posthumous Hero to Animals award on 7 February 2017. Though extremely gory (you might want to look away during the terrifying battle scenes), Hacksaw Ridge is well worth watching, if only to appreciate the extraordinary bravery of a man who espoused and practised non-violence but willingly pitched himself into the carnage of war in order to save his fellow men.

Paul Appleby

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