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News from Norway Vegan Views 68 (Spring 1995)

Some exciting things are happening in Norway on the animal welfare/rights front, even though Norway is in many ways years behind most European countries.

As the movement is relatively small in Norway there is close co-operation between three groups thus avoiding doing the same work twice and supporting each other in a common goal.

The three most active organisations continue to work together. There are plans to organise a vegetarian/vegan grill stand in Oslo this summer and perhaps an animal rights conference later this year. Together, we have produced some leaflets and brochures. NOAH, Dyrebeskyttelsen and Vegetarianerforeningen will cooperate wherever it is found appropriate.

Our international contacts are very important to us, providing us with information, ideas and inspiration. Perhaps your organisation can help by placing us on their mailing list or by sending us any important reports, leaflets or brochures. Due to limited funds we would also appreciate any magazines, books and videos for our library and members. In return we can offer our services should there be any issue you wish to follow up in Norway.

NOAH Grønland 26, 0188 Oslo, Norway.
Vegetarianerforeningen, Smedgata 7, 0651 Oslo, Norway.

The Vegetarian Society of Norway was founded just two years ago and we now have some 150 members, a number that is steadily rising. We have tried to 'make ourselves a name' and now the results are starting to show: we receive inquiries almost daily from the entire country.

Norwegians eat less meat than other Europeans, but our consumption of animal products is, unfortunately, increasing. Vegetarians are few. The only survey ever undertaken shows that some 1% of the population is vegetarian, equalling about 40,000 persons. This estimate is probably somewhat high, but it gives an idea of the situation. The survey, undertaken in 1993, also shows that 0.1% of the population consider themselves vegans.

The Norwegian Federation for the Protection of Animals (DN) sued in 1994 the Norwegian state for the third time because of the bad legislation on chicken farming. They have engaged one of the best lawyers in the country and consider the chances of winning are quite good. Joining with the farmer's trade associations and the Ministry of Agriculture, they are drawing out rules for alternative systems for egg-laying hens in Norway. Since Norway did not join the European Union, they are free to make this legislation as they like and, are not limited by EU policy.

Another important project is to inform the authorities of the outrageous situation for the Norwegian reindeer. Bettering their conditions is a slow process, due to unemployment and the number of people involved.

They have been trying to expand the working area for the National Committee on Animal Testing and have been successful with this.

The DN took part in the work against Norway joining the European Union, due to the fact that EU legislation on animal rights is mostly worse then that in Norway.

NOAH has been very busy. Numbers are increasing and they now have local groups In 7 Norwegian cities/ regions. They have been working on all major issues such as vivisection, animal farming, fur production, animals as entertainment on so on.

Fur Farming There are some 1,800 fur farms in Norway housing approximately 585,000 fox and 395,000 mink. Norway is responsible for 19% of the world's fox and 1% of the world's mink production. Currently there are no specific laws concerning fur animal welfare, only guidelines from the furtrade for cage size and animal density: 30x40x90 cm for mink and 60x102x75 for foxes. After an unnatural life in a barren cage, they are killed at the age of about 8 months - foxes by electrocution and mink by C0 gas. In 1992 the fur farming industry received 70 million Norwegian kroner (say £8 mn.) in subsidies. The fur industry argues that fur is a natural garment, essential in a cold climate, that fur animals thrive in cages otherwise they would not produce good coats, that fur farming makes good use of waste from slaughterhouses and fisheries, provides jobs and is an important export.

In November 1994, the Ethical Committee under the Norwegian Department of Agriculture reported that even though the physical health of fur animals is good, and mother and offspring are allowed to stay together for a long time, stereotype behaviour, fright reactions and infanticide suggests that the animals are not suited to their environment. From point of view of the animals' welfare, the Ethical Committee considered that the farming methods employed today cannot be justified and should be phased out. This report received wide press coverage and has been a big headache for the fur industry.

The leg-hold trap has been forbidden in Norway since 1932, but a variety of other traps are used and some 50,000 trapped animals go to the fur trade.

Whaling In Norwegian newspapers, articles try to keep up a "positive spirit" about whaling. Government estimates on the effects of the boycott are taken as gospel and always considered to be small, smaller than expected, etc. So please keep the pressure on Norway!. Desperate attempts are made to try to sell all kinds of whale products and find new uses for them: whale oil as medicine for different diseases, skeletons for museums, meat as steak, bacon etc. There is also a strong wish among whalers to increase the quotas and no longer any attempt to hide their intentions behind the term "small scale whaling". Whale watching is increasing. Hvalsafari (whale safari) reports that 692 tourists have seen whales near the coast of Andenes, an increase of 45% on last year, although the weather has not been good.

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Cross-reference: Vegan Groups Abroad