It’s bad news for whales. Japan has resumed commercial whaling, bringing back to port the country’s first official catch since it withdrew from the International Whaling Commission, a global organization committed to the conservation of whales. But Japan isn’t the only country still hunting whales, in spite of a 1986 ban on the practice. Norway and Iceland hunt whales too.
Whales roam throughout all of the world’s oceans, communicating with complex and mysterious sounds. Their sheer size amazes us: the blue whale can reach lengths of more than 100 feet and weigh up to 200 tons—as much as 33 elephants. Despite living in the water, whales breathe air. A thick layer of fat called blubber insulates them from cold ocean waters. And like humans, they are warm-blooded mammals who nurse their young. We know that they feel pain just like us too.
In Tokyo, local vegetarians are dedicating themselves in the New Year to getting local mainstream restaurants to offer more vegetarian options, as part of the lead up to the 2020 Olympics. In a bright, modern restaurant in west Tokyo, a quiet revolution is being plotted. About 30 vegetarians have met to discuss how they can convince the restaurants of Japan’s capital city to start serving vegetarian food.
The group, Tokyo Smile Veggies, aims to get restaurants to offer vegetarian dishes by the time they arrive. They plan to do this by hosting workshops explaining what vegetarianism means, by offering recipes and training to chefs, and by getting restaurants that are vegetarian friendly to display signs.
“We don’t want to increase the number of vegetarian restaurants,” said one of the group’s four founders, Aya Karasuyama. “We want vegetarian food to be served in normal restaurants. This hardly exists at present. People think vegetarians are strange and only eat salad.” They are holding an event on Sunday, a vegetarian and vegan foods party, especially aimed at non vegetarians.