Being Vegan – Why I Won’t Do The Ice-Bucket Challenge

Paul_G_NewBy Paul Graham

Las Vegas Informer

This weekly column is, in the most part, my opinion on a variety of subjects and allows me go beyond my normal writing about vegan food and write about the bigger picture of the vegan lifestyle and various social issues before us in the world today. These past few weeks we have seen social media, in particular, light up with people from all over taking the “Ice bucket challenge” to raise awareness for ALS.  Some have been quite funny, some have been quite poignant. It was someone’s very creative idea and it seemed to have worked as this disease and the fight for its cure has gotten perhaps more attention than it ever has before.That is the good part. ALS is a terrible disease and we need to find a cure for it…there is no question about it.

The question I would ask is where do our donations go and how exactly is this research carried out?  That is where the problem comes into it for me. While I support the idea of research to find a cure for this disease and any other, I have a very strong moral opposition to this research when it involves experimentation on animals. And the research to find a cure for ALS involves experimenting on animals. Not only is this cruel and barbaric, it is wholly unnecessary because there is no data to support that animal experimentation even helps in regards to human use. There are many ways to test drugs and various products without using animals, especially when the process doesn’t really even help. That is what makes it even more maddening.

I read a number of responses to the “ice bucket challenge” for ALS. I read a number of eloquent reasons why people were not participating because of the research link to animal experimentation. I also read some of the written abuse they received in response, much like it is when you challenge people about not consuming animals for food and other products. Freedom of speech is an important tenet of this land, and I think we need to respect that, but I wish people would take a step back and really look at the consequences of our actions and how it is impacting the lives of living creatures and the important ethical questions involved with our treatment of them.These innocent animals are being violated and we need to fight to establish rights for them. We also need to see how it is negatively impacting our health and the devastation it is causing upon our planet.

One of the responses that someone offered to this challenge that I found very thought-provoking was the one by Pamela Anderson. She said this: “Sorry–I cannot bring myself to do your ice bucket challenge. I enjoy a good dare–it’s always good to bring awareness–in fun, creative ways. I don’t want to take away from that but it had me thinking. Digging a bit deeper, I found that we may not be aligned in our messages. So, I thought instead I’d challenge ALS to spot animal testing. Recent experiments funded by the ALS Association, mice had holes drilled into their skulls, were inflicted with crippling illnesses, and were forced to run on an inclined treadmill until they collapsed from exhaustion. Monkeys had chemicals injected into their brains and backs and were later killed and dissected.  What is the result of these experiments (other than a lot of suffering)? In the past decade, only about a dozen experimental ALS treatments have moved on to human trials after being shown to alleviate the disease in animals. All but one of these treatments failed in humans–and the one that ‘passed’ offered only marginal benefits to humans who suffer from ALS. This massive failure rate is typical for animal experiments, because even though animals feel pain and suffer like we do, their bodies often react completely different to drugs and diseases.  According to the FDA, 92 out of every 100 drugs that pass animal trials fail during the human clinical trial phase. Sophisticated non-animal testing methods–including in vitro methods, advance computer-modeling techniques, and studies with human volunteers, among others–have given us everything from the best life-saving HIV drugs to cloned human skin for burn victims. Trying to cure human diseases by relying on outdated and ineffective animal experiments isn’t only cruel–it’s a grave disservice to people who desperately need cures. Please, help scientists make real progress toward treating and curing human diseases by visiting to find and support charities that never harm animals and which pour their time and resources into advanced, promising, human-relevant cures.”

This is no disrespect to anyone afflicted with ALS or family or friends of those who have died or presently suffering with it. We need to find a cure for ALS  and every other disease that is killing, crippling, and impacting people. It is not to cast disparaging thoughts towards those that took the challenge. It is great to see people responding when challenged. We live in a day where we need more people than ever before to rise to the challenge of making a difference in the world. We need to find a way to solve our problems and our differences with other people without hurting our killing them. This should extend to all living creatures as well. There is a way lined out for us to live, I believe, happier and healthier without eating and consuming animal products. There is also a way to find a cure without hurting animals in the process and that is the track that we need to get on.That is the real challenge before us. What will you do?

Paul Graham

Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004.  He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer.  He has a daily vegan food blog which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas.  He can also be reached at or

Paul‘s revised edition of Eating Vegan Vegas is now available in bound book form and can be ordered through or any independent bookseller.  The e-book version can be found at  

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8 Responses to Being Vegan – Why I Won’t Do The Ice-Bucket Challenge

  1. Paul, This is an excellent read. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts with us. I wasn’t exactly sure what type of animal testing they did. Regardless it’s cruel & I’m completely against it also. I’m happy everyone is getting involved in trying to find a cure, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of animals suffering. Thanks again!!! On a side note, for all of you animal lovers, there’s a vegan cruise coming up in March 🙂 If anyone is interested please check it out. It’s always nice hanging out with like minded individuals. 🙂

  2. Do you know about the Hydrate Challenge? You drink a beverage of choice *and* donate to charities of choice. Examples:

  3. Paul, I have been following this site for quite a while now, because I truly enjoy reading your articles. I have never left any comments, so i think it’s highest time to do so: I completely agree and I wish more people digged a little bit deeper. Thank you so much for sharing. Greatings from Poland.

  4. – not

  5. Great post…important typo to fix though: It’s (the “e” was missing).

  6. Even if you don’t give a thought to the animal experiments, consider that patients and families wait desperately for prevention, treatment, and cure of ALS. There is nothing for them, even after decades of animal experiments. When do we realize that this approach is cruel and inhumane to patients and families, and wasteful of time and resources that could be redirected to human-relevant research?

  7. I never realized this happened.. thank you for enlightening us! I’m a newly turned animal rights believer and I’m just disgusted at the treatment of animals. Thank you again, great article!


    Many human diseases have been cured as a result of animal studies, and the knowledge that we gain from them. ALS has not, but, from this we should not assume that it never will be. The author’s position appears premised on the assumption. What if, instead, we assumed that they will? Is it worth risking? Perhaps this depends on whether or not the author is afflicted by ALS. Since many of the successful medical treatments for cancer and other illnesses have been developed using animal testing, the proof of any critic’s integrity lies in his or her decision to decline such treatments, personally. I wonder who, among the critics, is prepared to do so when their time comes?

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