All posts by VegOttawa

VegOttawa Association is a not-for-profit membership-based organization created to educate the public about the health benefits of a plant-based diet for the improvement of public health. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible – whether or not they are vegan/vegetarian. The public benefits from our work through increased awareness of preventative health care through dietary lifestyle habits; while those following a plant-based diet benefit from improved access to information, connections with like-minded community members, and an improved social infrastructure that supports a plant-based diet. VegOttawa Association is working to create an environment within which everyone has the knowledge and ability to take control of their own health, prevent health problems from occurring, and live healthier lifestyles overall. www.vegottawa.org Twitter: @vegottawa Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=6313597131

Animal Testing in Biology and Medicine: Why it is Obsolete, Unethical, and Mostly Irrelevant.

By Ian Nandlall

The medical field has always been progressive, at least at first glance. However, it has badly underperformed in many key areas concerning sustainability. On top of an environmental impact amounting to roughly 4.4% of global net emissions, the healthcare industry engages in poor animal welfare practices. This is especially true in the context of biomedical experimentation, particularly when it comes to developing and testing drugs. 

Despite the introduction of the Three Rs principle (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement) in 1959 as a guideline for reducing animal testing, the practice is still widespread today. As such, one could argue that few medicines are truly vegan or vegetarian.

A mouse in a lab receives an injection.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ANIMAL TESTING?

Many non-human animals have been subjected to suffering in the name of advancing medical science. Animal testing was introduced to minimize and prevent unwanted effects during and after human clinical trials. Some researchers support the “necessity” of animal testing as it is seen as a more ethical alternative to humans. Also, many claim that animal data correlates well with human biology. In their view, animal testing would be impossible to replace.

However, several studies have exposed the poor quality of animal research and its failure to translate well to human applications. For instance, 172 drugs designed for treating Alzheimer’s disease failed in humans despite success in animal trials. Corticosteroids, drugs used to treat inflammatory diseases, cause abnormal fetal development in non-human animals but not in humans. Certain diseases and conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) develop differently in animal models.

An obvious reason for these issues is that non-human animals exhibit differences in terms of basic anatomy and physiology when compared to humans. Thus, drugs are not metabolized in the same manner and the biological pathways through which diseases develop are not the same. Also, the often stressful conditions that non-human animals are subjected to during experimentation may also change their physiology and cause unpredictable effects on disease states and drug metabolism. This means that not only is animal testing irrelevant and cruel, but it causes harm to humans as well by denying them promising drugs that fail animal trials.

In some cases, humans could be subjected to dangerous substances thought to be safe due to unreliable data. Such was the case with Vioxx, an infamous anti-inflammatory drug that was taken off the market in 2004 due to its adverse effect on cardiovascular health in humans. The manufacturer’s claim that the drug was safe had mainly relied on data obtained from African green monkeys.

Some supporters of animal testing would argue that better controlled animal studies and models are all that are required to solve these issues. One possible measure is more diligent breeding. The practicality of this method is unclear. It seems unreasonable to expect that an animal subject would become an acceptable proxy for humans simply by inducing mutation after mutation, especially when methods that better reflect human biology exist.

Rabbit receives an injection in a lab setting.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ALTERNATIVES THAT CURRENTLY EXIST OR ARE IN DEVELOPMENT?

Today, there exist many alternative experimentation methods that are worthy of attention.

In vitro testing refers to experimentation on biological organisms (i.e. bacteria, fungi, viruses), cells, or molecules outside of larger organisms such as humans or non-human animals. As an example, consider atopic dermatitis, more widely known as eczema. Mice are commonly used in animal research regarding this condition, despite the fact that their skin exhibits key differences (i.e. number of layers, types of immune cells) that have an impact on how eczema develops and responds to treatment. Three-dimensional models derived from human skin and immune cells would allow researchers to examine eczema in a context that takes into account human skin properties. In the future, more refined models could include other factors that play a role in the development of eczema, such as mechanical “wear and tear” as well as blood supply.

Another method involves the use of bioplastic based devices that contain fluid channels lined with human derived cells. These devices are commonly known as “organs on chips” and are essentially slices of functional organs that can be exposed to mechanical stress and different substances, such as drugs. “Organs on chips” show incredible promise in terms of cost-effectiveness, versatility, sustainability, as well as physiological relevance and accuracy in terms of determining drug toxicity. However, the technology is still in its infancy, and their suitability remains to be seen.

There are also more specific types of in vitro testing and refers to involving the use of omics, an umbrella term for sub-disciplines such as genomics (the study of genes and their functions), proteomics (the study of proteins), and metabolomics (the study of metabolites, the byproduct of medications following metabolism). It is next to impossible to go into detail given the immense scope of omics, but the basic idea is to study the effects of medications and toxins on changes regarding gene expression, proteins, and so on. These methods serve more of a theoretical basis as opposed to practical when it comes to clinical testing, but could help in drug development and understanding disease at a fundamental level.

A third type of method encompasses in silico experimentation, which involves the use of simulation using computer-based models. Within the context of therapeutics, they mostly work to complement in vitro methods by predicting toxicity of medications. The number of in silico models that exist is large, but there are several key categories. The first involves identifying biochemical similarities between medications and their byproducts following metabolism with already known toxins. The second type involves the use of equations that predict potential toxicity of a drug based on the level of drug accumulation and the degree to which it interacts with human tissue. These are known as pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic models. Although promising, their use as a sole alternative to other methods is limited due to their relatively small scope and difficulty to factor in all possible variables. However, in silico experimentation will likely become an invaluable addition to other alternative methods in the future.

Lastly, attention has been drawn to early microdose drug studies in human volunteers. In this context, participants are exposed to very low doses of an experimental drug, allowing researchers to study how the medication interacts with the human organism on a basic level. However, this requires the development of extremely sensitive methods that are capable of measuring drug activity at a very small scale such as liquid chromatography (the use of chemical methods to separate parts of a mixture). Also, this technology would need to be adapted to different types of drugs and may not currently be usable for certain medications, which limits its use for now.

CONCLUSION

All of the these methods have the potential to replace animal testing as more ethical, accurate, and reliable alternatives. However, such an evolution requires not only a large amount of resources, but dramatic shifts in culture, mentality and core values. While it is unclear if these methods will evolve enough to supplant animal testing within the next century, it is an ideal that we should strive for. At the very least, there is a strong possibility that these methods will co-exist with current experimentation methods, which will hopefully lead to a significant decrease in animal experimentation as a whole.


About the Author:
Ian was a longtime vegetarian, recently turned vegan, as well as a new contributor to VegOttawa. Among his interests are animal ethics, biomedical sciences and physics, and the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet.


References:

Balls M, Bailey J, Combes R. How viable are alternatives to animal testing in determining the toxicities of therapeutic drugs?. Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology, 2019 Oct 3; 15(12): 985-87.

Bracken MB. Why animal studies are often poor predictors of human reactions to exposure. J R Soc Med. 2009 Mar 1; 102(3): 120-22.

Combes R, Berridge T, Connelly J, Eve M, Garner R, Toon S, Wilcox P. Early microdose drug studies in human volunteers can minimise animal testing: Proceedings of a workshop organised by Volunteers in Research and Testing. European journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 2003 Jun; 19(1): 1-11.

Franzen N, van Harten WH, Retèl VP, Loskill P, van den Eijnden-van Raaij J, Ijzerman M. Impact of organ-on-a-chip technology on pharmaceutical R&D costs. Drug Discovery Today, 2019 Sept; 24(9): 1720-24.

Fröhlich E. Role of omics techniques in the toxicity testing of nanoparticles. Journal of Nanobiotechnology, 2017 Nov; 15(1).

Low LA, Mummery C, Berridge BR, Austin CP, & Tagle DA. Organs-on-chips: into the next decade. Nature Reviews. Drug Discovery, 2021 May; 20(5): 345–61.

Löwa A, Jevtić M, Gorreja F, Hedtrich S. Alternatives to animal testing in basic and preclinical research of atopic dermatitis. Experimental Dermatology, 2018 Jan 22; 27(5): 476-483.

Nast, C., 2021. Vioxx Suit Faults Animal Tests. [online] Wired. Available at: <https://www.wired.com/2005/07/vioxx-suit-faults-animal-tests/&gt; [Accessed 26 June 2021].

Perrin S. Preclinical research: Make mouse studies work. Nature. 2014 Mar 26; 507: 423-25.

Raies AB, Bajic VB. In silico toxicology: computational methods for the prediction of chemical toxicity. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Comput Mol Sci. 2016 Mar; 6(2): 147-72.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025138/


UPDATED DISCOUNT! | saaboon 15% Off!

From saaboon.com,

SAABOON is an all-natural, vegan soap boutique based in Ottawa, Canada. 

Using the traditional cold-process soap-making method, our handcrafted soaps are made from scratch in small batches to ensure consistent quality. We use only the best natural oils and do not use synthetic chemicals or foaming agents, artificial fragrance oils, artificial colourings, or any preservatives. And we are 100% against animal testing!

saaboon will now offer a 15% discount off all their beautiful soaps, balms, face oils, deodorants, bath salts,… to VegOttawa Association members! (This replaces the previous discount of 10%)

Why buy handmade soap vs. commercial soap? The answer is very simple, with handmade soap, you get exactly that – soap. Commercial soap are not always true forms of soap – they are often detergents. Detergents are petroleum-based products, filled with synthetic, harsh chemicals that will leave your skin feeling dry, itchy, and irritated. Most manufacturers also remove a large percentage of the glycerin from their soap because glycerin contains a high resale value. The glycerin is sold to other companies to make lotions and creams. Glycerin is the natural by-product in the soap-making process. It is a humectant (helps moisturize your skin). With handmade soap, all the glycerin is retained. Whereas with commercial soap the ingredients consists of animal fats and other chemicals that will often leave your skin irritated, our handmade soap are made with all-natural vegetable and fruit oils that not only cleanse but leave your skin nourished and moisturized.

We use only the best oils and butters to make our products — these include olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, rosehip oil, jojoba oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, and avocado Oil.

Your satisfaction is extremely important to us. Our mission is to provide great quality products and excellent service.

Come visit our brick and mortar shop at 595 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, Canada.

FOR DAILY UPDATES, NEWS AND FUN BEHIND-THE-SCENES PHOTOS, FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK :: @SAABOON

ON BEHALF OF THE ORGANIZATION, THANK YOU TO ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT! MORE DISCOUNTS ON THE WAY!

If you are not a VOA member yet or need to renew your membership, click here.

NEW DISCOUNT! PlantEd Project

PlantEd Project will now offer a 15% discount off of their Community and Private plant-based cooking workshops to VegOttawa Association members!
Check out their beautiful website (linked above) for more info. about PlantEd Project, their workshops, recipes, blog posts and more!

PlantEd Project is a women-run small business in Ottawa. Co-founders Jackie and Georgia are dedicated to making vegan cooking fun, easy, and accessible.

PlantEd Project provides the tools and resources to help you incorporate plant-based cooking, eating, and living into your daily life.

We offer Virtual Cooking Workshops where you can learn new plant-based recipes, pick up some vegan cooking tips and tricks, and spend time with like-minded people – all from the comfort of your own home.

Join us for a bi-weekly community session or book your very own private session with a group of friends, family, or colleagues. Join us in our journey and discover just how easy it can be to make sustainable choices three times a day.

THANK YOU TO ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT! MORE DISCOUNTS ON THE WAY!

If you are not a VOA member yet or need to renew your membership, click here.

NEW DISCOUNT! PLANTKIND: FITNESS. NUTRITION. LIFESTYLE.

PlantKind: Fitness. Nutrition. Lifestyle. will now offer a free consultation ($90 value) to VegOttawa Association members! This 1 hour consultation will include a health history, review of goals, movement assessment, & baseline fitness testing and can be done virtually or in person (not during lockdown however). You can fill out the consultation form here or from your Cardskipper app.

Check out the website (linked above) for more info. about PlantKind, the training programs offered, blog posts on fitness, nutrition, recipes and more.

PlantKind is about lifelong fitness – helping you discover the strong, resilient and capable body you were born to have. PlantKind Fitness is for real people who want to live a full life. You don’t need tons of time, a gym membership or a large space. All you need is consistency and some guidance! PlantKind is for busy parents and professionals, elderly and athletes and anyone that can benefit from moving with more skill and strength!

THANK YOU TO ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT! MORE DISCOUNTS ON THE WAY!

If you are not a VOA member yet or need to renew your membership, click here.

AGM 2021 ELECTION RESULTS

Thank you to all who attended our 11th Annual General Meeting. This year was the first year the Association held it’s AGM via ZOOM. We reviewed our accomplishments and sponsored events of 2020 and held our annual election welcoming a new volunteer board of directors.

We would like to send a huge thank you to exiting board directors, Mark Petersen, Susan Macfarlane, Adam Nephin, Dean Tester, and Marie-Pierre Theoret-Pilon for all of their hard work and time committed towards furthering the organization’s progress.

Your 2021 VegOttawa Association Board of Directors:

NADIA MOHABIR
Director | President

KAREN FAIRHOLM
Director | Vice President

NATHALIE C. HOULE
Director | Secretary

DAVID EDELSTEIN
Director | Treasurer

DEE CAMPBELL
Director | Membership Coordinator

EMILY MANUEL
Director | Social Media

2020 ACCOMPLISHMENTS & EVENTS REVIEWED AT THE AGM

  • Sponsored IVFF (International Vegan Film Festival) screening of 4 short films at Copper Branch Barrhaven.
  • Hosted Dr. Greger speaking tour, “How Not To Diet” @Algonquin Commons Theatre | March 9
  • Member Draws! Gave away gift cards to some of our favorite local plant-based businesses including SaaboonCopper BranchCinnaholicGabrielle Peterka Hair Co.The Table
  • Donation to Feline Cafe gofundme | COVID help
  • Donation to Chickpeas ‘Pay It Forward’ providing 25 meals to health care workers | COVID help
  • Donation to NutritionFacts.org (VegOttawa Association added to supporter wall as “Champions”
  • Sponsored IVFF event – We Animals Media screening of 5 short films with live Q&A (J. McArthur, K. Guerin)
  • Sponsored IVFF Virtual Festival 2020| Over 25 vegan-themed films shown
  • Melanie Boudens online cooking class | Pass giveaway to lucky VegOttawa members
  • Sara Galipeau online Meal Prep workshop | Pass giveaway to lucky VegOttawa members
  • Holiday Prize basket giveaway x 3 | vegan items and gift cards valued at $250+
  • Donated 300 Tofurky roasts to fulfill Ottawa Food Bank request for people in need of plant based holiday meals
  • Zengarry Veganuary recipe ebook & product discount provided to VegOttawa members
  • Melanie Boudens online cooking class #2 | Pass giveaway to lucky VegOttawa members
  • Added Ottawa Vegan & Vegan Friendly Business Directory to website
  • Added Vegan Transition help page to website
  • Added new discount offerings: Sea Glass Films & PhotographyGabrielle Peterka Hair Salon, Hippie MylkVan Tran PhotographyWuxly Movement (increased discount from 10% to 20%)

On behalf of the organization, thank you to all association members for your continued support. We can’t wait to see you all live and in person sooner than later.


VOA TEAM

Potluck – February 6

When: February 6, 4:30 to 7:30 pm. (Dinner starts at 5 pm)

Where: Jack Purcell Community Centre

  • 320 Jack Purcell Lane (Elgin at Lewis)
  • Link to google map 

Cost: $2 for NCVA members and $3 for non-members.

What to bring: Each person should bring a vegan dish, one free of animal products, eggs, dairy/cheese, honey, that serves 10 people, as well as your own plate, cutlery, and beverage. Also, please bring a serving utensil and the list of all ingredients for your dish, for people with allergies.

Potluck and Cookie Exchange – December 19

When: December 19, 4:30 to 7:30 pm. (Dinner starts at 5 pm)

Where: Jack Purcell Community Centre

  • 320 Jack Purcell Lane (Elgin at Lewis)
  • Link to google map 

Cost: $2 for NCVA members and $3 for non-members.

What to bring: Each person should bring a vegan dish, one free of animal products, eggs, dairy/cheese, honey, that serves 10 people, as well as your own plate, cutlery, and beverage. Also, please bring a serving utensil and the list of all ingredients for your dish, for people with allergies.

Bring vegan cookies (no eggs or milk) and exchange one for one after potluck.

Potluck – November 21

When: November 21, 4:30 to 7:30 pm. (Dinner starts at 5 pm)

Where: Jack Purcell Community Centre

  • 320 Jack Purcell Lane (Elgin at Lewis)
  • Link to google map 

Cost: $2 for NCVA members and $3 for non-members.

What to bring: Each person should bring a vegan dish, one free of animal products, eggs, dairy/cheese, honey, that serves 10 people, as well as your own plate, cutlery, and beverage. Also, please bring a serving utensil and the list of all ingredients for your dish, for people with allergies.

Potluck!

When: September 19, 4:30 to 8:30 pm. (Dinner starts at 5 pm)

Where: Jack Purcell Community Centre

  • 320 Jack Purcell Lane (Elgin at Lewis)
  • Link to google map 

Cost: $2 for NCVA members and $3 for non-members.

What to bring: Each person should bring a vegan dish, one free of animal products, eggs, dairy/cheese, honey, that serves 10 people, as well as your own plate, cutlery, and beverage. Also, please bring a serving utensil and the list of all ingredients for your dish, for people with allergies.

Recipe sharing: Before or after supper, you can drop off a paper copy of your recipe, and we’ll copy, put them in a binder and share them. 

New NCVA Board

The new NCVA board met on Friday evening, July 3, and we have established the following positions:
President: Jayne Torr​
Vice-President: Michael Schnier​
Membership: Josee Cyr
Secretary: Melanie Ransom
Treasurer: Gwen Hughes​

Over the next couple of weeks we will be transitioning ownership of the various logistical NCVA responsibilities such as the email addresses and website. Look for requests for feedback from the membership, as we want to obtain membership input on the coming year(s). If you are not a member yet, but wish to provide feedback, please email ncva.avcn@gmail.com, or, even better, become a member! We will update our bios as soon as we can.

Looking forward to a great year!