L l


Lac    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Resinous substance from SE Asian insect, used to make varnish and shellac.

Our definition:  Lac is the scarlet resinous secretion of a number of species of lac insects, of which the most commonly cultivated species is Kerria lacca.

Cultivation begins when a farmer gets a stick (broodlac) that contains eggs ready to hatch and ties it to the tree to be infested.  Thousands of lac insects colonize the branches of the host trees and secrete the resinous pigment. The coated branches of the host trees are cut and harvested as sticklac.

The harvested sticklac is crushed and sieved to remove impurities. The sieved material is then repeatedly washed to remove insect parts and other soluble material. The resulting product is known as seedlac. The prefix ‘seed’ refers to its pellet shape. Seedlac which still contains 3-5% impurities is processed into shellac by heat treatment or solvent extraction.

If dye is being produced, the insects are kept in the sticklac because the dye color comes from the insects rather than their resin. They may be killed by exposure to the sun.  On the other hand, if seedlac or shellac is being produced, most insects can escape because less coloured pale lac is generally more desired.

The largest users of shellac are the food, drug, and cosmetics industries.  Fruits and vegetables are coated with shellac and wax to make them shiny and eye-catching.  In the world of cosmetics, women (and men) use shellac-based hair-spray to make themselves appear shiny and more eye-catching.  Many vitamins, pills and food supplements are coated with shellac to make them slide easily down your throat, into your tummy.

The use of lac dye goes back to ancient times. It has been used in India as a skin cosmetic and dye for wool and silk. In China it is a traditional dye for leather goods. Lac for dye has been somewhat replaced by the emergence of synthetic dyes, though it remains in use, and some juices, carbonated drinks, wine, jam, sauce, and candy are coloured using it.

Lac is used in folk medicine as a hepatoprotective (to prevent liver damage) and anti-obesity drug.  It is used in violin and other varnish and is soluble in alcohol.  And it’s highly flammable.

Lamb    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Young sheep.  2. Its flesh as food.

Our definition:  1. Everyone loves to see the darling little lambs in the fields in spring – so bouncy, so adorable.  They’re playful and loving and full of life.  2.  Then there’s the bit you don’t see.  By the end of August they’re not in the field any more.  The bereft mothers are there, but not the babies.  They may be executed when they are as young as 3 or 4 months old, certainly before their first birthday.

Lambswool    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Soft fine wool from young sheep.

Our definition:  The wool industry is a very cruel one in which the animals are treated brutally.  Shearers are paid by volume, not by the hour, which means they work as fast as possible with no regard for the suffering of the sheep or lambs.  As a result the terrified animals get hit, kicked and cut with shears.  As babies, the lambs are subjected to ‘mulesing’ – large strips of skin and flesh are cut from the lamb’s back and buttocks without anaesthetic.  Many of these mutilations get painfully infected.  The soft lambswool that so many humans covet is often shaved from the lamb’s dead carcass.

I have seen wool described (on ebay) as the ‘cruelty free alternative to fur and leather’ which is so wrong and as long as this perception is prevalent in society, compassionate people will be duped into buying it.

Lanolin    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Fat from sheep’s wool used in cosmetics and ointments etc.

Our definition:  Lanolin is a yellow waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals.  Its role in nature is to protect the animal’s wool and skin against the ravages of climate and the environment.  Strangely, some humans like to rub it on their faces.

Crude lanolin constitutes about 5–25% of the weight of freshly shorn wool (see Lambswool above for details about the cruelty of the wool industry). The wool from one Merino sheep will produce about 250–300 ml of recoverable wool grease.  Lanolin is extracted by washing the wool in hot water with a special wool scouring detergent to remove dirt, wool grease (crude lanolin), suint (sweat salts), and anything else stuck to the wool. The wool grease is continuously removed during this washing process by centrifugal separators, which concentrate it into a wax-like substance melting at approximately 38 °C (100 °F).

Lanolin and its many derivatives are used as emollients in cosmetics, skin care, hair care, toiletries, and personal care products, and is found in lubricants, rust-preventative coatings, shoe polish, and other commercial products.  It is also a common ingredient in medicine, especially dermatological agents.  And it can also be used as a food additive, e.g. as a base for chewing gum, which is often simply referred to as ‘gum base’.

Derivatives of lanolin include Aliphatic Alcohols, Cholesterin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Laneth, Lanogene, Lanolin Alcohols, Lanosterols, Sterols, and Triterpene Alcohols.

Of course it’s easy to avoid if you’ve got your wits about you and plenty of products containing plant ingredients such as aloe, olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, shea butter, almond oil, or grapeseed oil, to name but a few, make lanolin completely unnecessary – to everyone but the sheep.

Lard    noun

Oxford Definition:  Pig fat used in cooking etc.

Our definition:  Lard is fat taken from the fatty tissue of slaughtered pigs.  The rendering process simultaneously dries the material and separates the fat from the bone and protein, yielding a fat commodity, eg. yellow grease, choice white grease, bleachable fancy tallow.  Some humans cook with it.

Leather    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Material made from skin of an animal by tanning etc.

Our definition:  Leather can be made from cows, pigs, goats, and sheep; exotic animals such as alligators, ostriches, and kangaroos; and even dogs and cats, who are slaughtered for their meat and skin in China, which exports their skins around the world. Because leather is normally not labelled, you never really know where it came from, or from whom.

Buying leather directly contributes to factory farms and slaughterhouses because skin is the most economically important product of the meat industry.  Leather is also no friend of the environment, as it shares responsibility for all the environmental destruction caused by the meat industry as well as the pollution caused by the toxins used in tanning.

The production processes of leather have a high environmental impact, most notably due to the heavy use of polluting chemicals in the tanning process; and air pollution due to the transformation process (hydrogen sulfide during dehairing and ammonia during deliming, solvent vapours).

One tonne of hide or skin generally leads to the production of 20 to 80 m3 of turbid and foul-smelling wastewater, including chromium levels of 100–400 mg/L, sulfide levels of 200–800 mg/L and high levels of fat and other solid wastes, as well as notable pathogen contamination. Pesticides are also often added for hide conservation during transport. With solid wastes representing up to 70% of the wet weight of the original hides, the tanning process comes at a considerable strain on water treatment installations.  Tanning is especially polluting in countries where environmental norms are lax, such as in India – the world’s 3rd largest producer and exporter of leather.

Wastewater pollution is primarily a byproduct of the initial preparation (or “beamhouse”) stage, wherein bits of flesh, hair, mold, poop, and other animal byproducts are mixed into wash water and discarded. Minute doses of chromium are needed by many plants and animals to regulate metabolic functions.  However, in large doses, such as when chromium-laced waste is dumped into regional water systems, it can damage fish gills, incite respiratory problems, infections, infertility, and birth defects.

Work within the tannery itself is fraught with dangers—often the result of inadequate or non-existent worker protections. These includes slips and falls on improperly drained floors; exposure to lime, tanning liquor, acids, bases, solvents, disinfectants, and other noxious chemicals; injury from heavy machinery or flaying knives; drowning, being boiled alive, or buried in lime, are all terrifyingly real hazards.

Still, the most dangerous part of modern tanning is handling chromium.  In humans, chromium causes a myriad of ailments depending on how it is absorbed.  When inhaled, chromium acts as a lung irritant and carcinogen, affecting the upper respiratory tract, obstructing airways, and increasing the chances of developing lung, nasal, or sinus cancer. Chromium is normally absorbed this way as fine particulate dust that is produced when both raw and tanned leathers are buffed, smoothed, and ground up. Chromium has been linked to increased rates of asthma, bronchitis, polyps of the upper respiratory tract, pharyngitis, and the enlargement of the hilar region and lymph nodes.

It doesn’t play well with your skin either. Once absorbed through unprotected handling, chromium can cause dry, cracked, and scaled skin; as well as erosive ulcerations that refuse to heal known “chrome holes”.  And should one become sensitive to Chromium exposure, contact with it will result in swelling and inflammation known as allergic dermatitis.

The dyes or solvents employed in the finishing process are linked not just to nasal cancer but bladder and testicular cancer as well.  A number of other forms, including lung and pancreatic cancer, are associated with leather dust and tanning.

But in impoverished nations like Bangladesh, where this industry generates $600 million in exports each year, the health of workers and the environment are distant afterthoughts.

Liver    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Large glandular organ in abdomen of vertebrates.  2. Liver of some animals as food.

Our definition:  1. The liver is the body’s largest internal organ.  It has two large sections, called the right and the left lobes. The gallbladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines. The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.

Blood flows out of the top of the liver through three large veins called the hepatic veins, into a big vein called the inferior vena cava that goes to the heart. Below the liver, where the hepatic artery and the portal vein come in, the bile duct comes out of the liver. Bile made in the liver flows out through this bile duct (which is a thin tube the size of a drinking straw), and goes down to the gut, where it mixes with food. The gall bladder is a small greenish pear-shaped bag that hangs off the bile duct. It stores bile and squeezes it out into the gut at mealtime.

The liver is like a big chemical laboratory, and it does lots of things. Among other things, it handles the nutrients that have been absorbed by the gut from food, removes toxins from the blood, makes proteins like albumin and clotting factors (these help in the clotting process), secretes bile which helps digest fatty foods in particular, and stores energy in the form of a sugar called glycogen.

2. Some people have these large organs cut out of dead animals so that they can eat them. Seriously, they do O_o

Lobster    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Marine crustacean with two pincer-like claws.  2. Its flesh as food.

Our definition:  1.  Lobsters are invertebrate animals with a hard protective exoskeleton.  They  must moult (shed their shell and develop a bigger one) in order to grow, which leaves them vulnerable.  During the moulting process, several species change colour.  Lobsters have 10 walking legs; the front three pairs bear claws, the first of which are larger than the others.  Although lobsters are largely bilaterally symmetrical, some genera possess unequal, specialised claws.

Because lobsters live in a murky environment at the bottom of the ocean, they mostly use their antennae as sensors.  The lobster eye has a reflective structure above a convex retina. In contrast, most complex eyes use refractive ray concentrators (lenses) and a concave retina.

Lobsters, like snails and spiders, have blue blood due to the presence of hemocyanin which contains copper.   In contrast, vertebrates and many other animals have red blood from iron-rich haemoglobin.  Lobsters possess a green hepatopancreas which functions as the animal’s liver and pancreas.

It has been estimated that lobsters live up to 70 years old, although determining age is difficult and many think they may live much longer than that.  Research suggests that lobsters may not slow down, weaken, or lose fertility with age, and that older lobsters may be more fertile than younger lobsters.

Lobsters are found in all oceans.  They live on rocky, sandy, or muddy bottoms from the shoreline to beyond the edge of the continental shelf.  They generally live singly in crevices or in burrows under rocks.

Lobsters are omnivores and typically eat live prey such as fish, mollusks, other crustaceans, worms, and some plant life.  They scavenge if necessary, and are known to resort to cannibalism in captivity. However, when lobster skin is found in lobster stomachs, this is not necessarily evidence of cannibalism – lobsters eat their shed skin after moulting.

2. According to Wikipedia the most common way of killing a lobster in order to eat it is by placing it live in boiling water, sometimes after having been placed in a freezer for a period of time.  Another method is to split the lobster or sever the body in half lengthwise.  Lobsters may also be killed or rendered insensate immediately before boiling by a stab into the brain (pithing), in the belief that this will stop suffering.  However, a lobster’s brain operates from not one but several ganglia and disabling only the frontal ganglion does not usually result in death or unconsciousness.  The boiling method is illegal in some places, such as in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where offenders face fines of up to €495.

A device called the CrustaStun has been invented to electrocute shellfish such as lobsters, crabs, and crayfish before cooking.  The device works by applying a 110 volt, 2–5 amp electrical charge to the animal.  It is reported the CrustaStun renders the shellfish unconscious in 0.3 seconds and kills the animal in 5 to 10 seconds, compared to 3 minutes to kill a lobster by boiling.

Lobworm    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Large earthworm used as fishing bait.

Our definition:  Through much of Europe, the lobworm is the largest naturally occurring species of earthworm, typically reaching 20 – 25 cm in length when extended (though in parts of southern Europe, the native species are much larger).  It has an unusual habit of copulating on the surface at night, which makes it more visible than most other earthworms.  Worms are critical for soil turnover and fertility.  They eat dead plant material, and their burrows help aerate the soil and let water through easily.  Worm casts (faeces) are rich in recycled plant nutrients that help maintain soil fertility.  They are also known as dew worms, squirrel tails, twachels or night crawlers.

Humans stick sharp hooks through them to use them as fishing bait and also cut them up in biology classes at school.

Lymph    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Colourless fluid from tissues of body, containing white blood cells.  2. This fluid as vaccine.

Our definition:  1. Lymphatic capillaries in mammalian bodies are interwoven with the blood capillaries.  Fluid and proteins are forced out of the arterial end of the blood capillary and into the interstitial space.  About 90% of the fluid is reabsorbed in the venous end of the blood capillary, but none of the proteins are able to re-enter the blood vessels because they cannot fit through the tight junctions of the cells.  The lymph capillaries have extremely loose cell junctions, however, and they are able to absorb the remaining 10% of the fluid along with the plasma proteins.  Once inside of the lymph vessels, the fluid is then termed “lymph.”

2. Proteins such as albumin, drain into the lymph vessels and become lymph.  To make vaccines, albumin from fertilised chicken eggs, humans, and cows, for example, are used as a growth medium for attenuated or killed micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria or rickettsiae).  See A to Z of Vaccine Ingredients.  For more information about animal products and vaccine manufacture click here.

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