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Battle Over Rhino Horn, 99 Percent Vegans, and Mike Tyson’s 100 Pound Vegan Loss

Every Friday I post the most interesting vegan news articles and blogs I’ve read. This week in vegan news …

1. Drones, poison and armed guards in the battle over rhinoceros

rhino horn close upNear the end of 2011 the western black rhino was officially declared extinct. Back then CNN reported that the International Union for Conservation of Nature warned “that other rhinos could follow saying Africa’s northern white rhino is ‘teetering on the brink of extinction’ while Asia’s Javan rhino is ‘making its last stand’ due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.”

Now, once the Indian defense ministry approves, regular operation of unmanned drones will be used to combat poachers in northeast India. According to the Associated Press, “In recent weeks, wildlife authorities in Assam have deployed 300 armed guards to protect the rhinos in Kaziranga but they have been no match for organized gangs of poachers who have been managing to strike at the rhinos with increasing regularity.”

“Stealing antique rhino horn kept in the UK can deliver similar profits with much lower risks,” wrote BBC news. A DNA database of rhino horn is being developed in the UK to combat the thieves. There’s been over 20 criminal instances over the past 2 years. PC Andy Long, a wildlife crime officer in Essex, calls it a “highly organized crime at an international level.”

In South Africa, where more than 200 rhinos have been poached this year alone, they’re trying a far more drastic approach — poisoning all the rhino horn with a non-lethal mixture of dye and parasiticides that will make whoever consumes it “seriously ill,” reported The Guardian. “If the poacher hacks off the horn, he’ll immediately see it’s contaminated. We’re saying to the poachers: ‘Don’t bother coming to Sabi Sand. You’re wasting your time,'” said Andrew Parker, chief executive of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association.

2. The problem with the vegan police

While researching this column each week, it seems as though half the stories are of this variety: a person or celebrity declares they’re going to go vegan, and a week, month or year later they proclaim to the world how hard it is. Long-term vegans certainly don’t make it easy to get into the club wrote Paige Singleton at Vegan Soapbox. There seems to be whole group of “Gotcha vegans” or “vegan police,” who “scour the sphere for vegan slip-ups, trying to find aspiring vegans eating something that contains hidden meat or dairy products.”

In that environment, even the most dedicated vegans can find it hard to succeed. Case in point the Happy Herbivore who wrote back in 2011:

No matter how hard I tried, no matter how perfectly I thought I was living, something I did was always wrong. The vegan police were always ready to jump in and take away my vegan card. Now, mind you, it wasn’t like I went an ate a burger or something… it was more acute than that.

For example, I once tweeted I’d eaten cotton candy at a baseball game. Big mistake. I received a wave of angry texts and tweets about how I wasn’t vegan if I ate cotton candy, and how unresponsible it was of me not to source the sugar in the cotton candy first. I think my reaction was R-rated but in the retelling of this story, let’s just say I shouted “good grief!”

It’s an issue on many vegan blogs and one of the reasons behind the crazy-vegan stereotype that keeps many non-vegans away. “A great way to lead is by personal example, and that’s something we all can do.  But insisting on perfection, in myself and others, is more likely to scare people away than bring them to the truth,” wrote Singleton.

3. Mike Tyson goes vegan and drops 100 pounds

Last year Mike Tyson went vegan and declared he was going to live a different life. A hundred pounds later he sat down with Oprah for an episode of “Oprah: Where are they now?” which aired this past Tuesday.

“Becoming a vegan gave me another opportunity to live a healthy life. I was so congested from all the drugs and bad cocaine, I could hardly breathe, [I had] high blood pressure, [was] almost dying [and had] arthritis. And once I became a vegan all that stuff diminished,” he said.

You can watch a clip from the show below.


  1. In regards to the “Vegan Police”, I think many people are Pharisees at heart – eager to impose rules on others they don’t live up to themselves.

  2. The policing is crazy… You know I try to live by the rule of doing the best I can. Life is a series of adjustments, if you don’t give yourself any grace, of course you’re going to find it impossible to make a life change.

    • When I first went vegan I wanted to be 100% perfect. Now that I realize I’m going to do this for awhile (maybe forever), there’s no way I can obsess over EVERY little thing.

  3. Thank you for always posting heartfelt inspiring stories.
    It’s good to see Mr. Tyson living a vegan lifestyle- happy and healthy with his loving family.

  4. Great stuff, again, Jeff. The nit-pickers are everywhere in every walk of life. It must be hard to be so unhappy.
    The Tyson story tickled me. I would think getting off the “drugs and bad cocaine” might have had a bit to do with his improved health, too.

  5. Iron Mike was terrible with so much weight. I’m glad he lost it. He seems to be a much better person after the [lifestyle] switch. On another note, I know someone who adopted a vegan lifestyle and lost 50 pounds or so, overcame arthritis, and had a different outlook on life. Alas, the taste of meat overcame them and they’re overweight again and back to the same old aches and pains…

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