Sunday, December 25, 2011

Boycott Animal Testing-- Part one: Cosmetics

Animal testing is the cruel and unnecessary process of force-feeding and slathering products on animals and seeing how they react. One kind of animal testing for cosmetics is the Draize test, which involves putting chemicals in rabbits' eyes (rabbits have a slow reaction that causes them not to blink fast enough to avoid the chemicals). Another kind tries to determine how long it takes for half of the rats or mice to die once poisoned with a chemical, such as hairspray, nail polish, shampoo, etc. These tests are conducted to ensure the "safety" of the products being used-- but they are totally unhelpful.
Humans and other animals are different on a cellular and molecular level-- which often results in the tested animals reacting differently than humans do (I'll talk more about that in Part two: Biomedical Research). And besides, the chemicals used in cosmetics should be safe enough to test on humans right away. Not force-feeding humans like they do to animals, but applying a small amount on the skin of volunteers to see if they form a rash. So basically, testing on animals is completely worthless, not to mention cruel!
Which products do and don't test on animals, then? Well, it is your lucky day-- there is a huge printable list of cruelty-free companies that I am about to give you a link to!

Ta-Da!*** Regular List:
                  Global Guide: ***

Of course, there are so many unnecessary cosmetics out there, too-- you would be best to stick with the basic shampoo, conditioner, soap, and deodorant-- but if you do choose to use more than that, make sure that they ALL are animal-testing-free! Even better, make sure that they are animal-product free, toxic chemical free, and environmentally friendly, too.

Have fun shopping!

P.S. I almost forgot to post this because it's Christmas! Well, this is the last post of 2011. See you on  January 1, 2012!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Action VII: Help the pet-store animals!

How long would you expect animals to stay in a pet store before being bought? A few days? A week, maybe? Animals can actually stay there for much longer. I know a parrot at a pet store who has been around for weeks and weeks! One can only imagine the boredom that they find there, with no playmates to play with, no wide-open spaces to fly over, and no excursions to go on. It must be awfully boring, even depressing!
But please, don't go out and buy them all-- that only fuels the industry.
Helping the animals at a pet store can be tricky. After all, we can not buy them, as this supports the cruel breeding industry. However, there are a few ways to help them endure the boredom of glass cages.
1. Visit the pet store-- and don't bring your money, so that you aren't tempted to buy-- just to visit the animals. Sometimes they have dogs in an open playpen where you can interact with them! Or you can simply "stroke" the animals through the glass; I've tried this, and some of them actually like it. Sometimes being near them is enough. It might help to read up on the species beforehand. For example, cats will not trust you if you stare at them, but birds won't trust you if you blink too much! Helping them now is important because nobody knows what sorts of lives they will live after they are bought, so the time that they spend with you in the pet stores could be one of the only good memories they'll possess! (By the way, animals do have memories!)
2. Report anything wrong with an animal or their cages to a pet-store staff. For example, if a hamster wheel is knocked down, tell someone!
3. Ask the pet-store if you could be a volunteer to take the puppies out on walks or socialize with them. Let them expend some energy, have fun, and get used to humans. This doesn't help the business at all, but it does help the animals!
4. Write a letter to the pet-store chain director and say that you are concerned for the well-being of the animals being sold. For example, you could ask them to start selling animals from shelters instead. Tell them that you won't be buying any of their pet products (eg. hamster wheels and pet food) until they start bringing more ethically-sourced animals to their store. Be polite, but assertive.
5. Support shelters by buying supplies from them, if they sell any. Or at least buy supplies from a store that sells animals from shelters. None of them in my city are perfect, I know, but it is good to support the most humane ones.
There really are so many ways to help animals, when you think about it. So much can be done!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Action VI: The Animal-Friendly Christmas

Making your Christmas animal-friendly takes a bit of extra planning. (But it is worth it!) Please keep in mind your pets, animals being exploited by industry, and wildlife.
Companion Animals: Make sure that any plants hanging around your house are non-toxic, and put the toxic ones in rooms where the animals do not enter, as the leaves can fall onto the ground even when they are out of reach! (Thanks for the tip, A.M.!) For example, mistletoe is toxic, as are holly and poinsettia-- unknowing animals might taste these plants and fall ill, so be careful! If your cat likes eating tinsel and ribbons, you should do without these frills. (Never give an animal as a gift. Having a companion animal requires a lot of effort and money, and people should only adopt once they are sure that they can handle it.) I also suggest giving your pets new toys and lots of love this Christmas-- share the joy!
Industry animals: Here I am talking about animals raised for food, fur, wool, and leather. Please take care to give cruelty-free gifts to your loved ones! And how about serving a vegetarian turkey this year? The brand Tofurkey is popular, and there are many other kinds of fake meats in regular grocery stores as well as health-food stores. Get in touch with any party organizers early to make suggestions.
Wildlife: Seeing that wild animals live in nature, it is very important to keep their home intact! Try to minimize your environmental impact on Christmas by wrapping presents in scarves and reusable gift bags, avoiding ribbons and gift-wrapping paper. Use a live tree in a pot this Christmas, which you can keep inside for a few years and plant in the springtime! See more eco-friendly holiday ideas on my environment blog: .
Hope you have a great time making your Christmas animal-friendly!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Give Pests a Rest!

I'll start off this post with a quiz. Answer honestly!

1) How often do you kill an insect who is in your house?
a. Whenever I see one
b. Only if the weather is too cold to let them outside
c. Never; I either leave them be or take them outside

2) If your house had rats in the walls, what would you do?
a. Call an exterminator immediately
b. Find a no-kill company to release them into the wild
c. Lure them into no-kill traps and release them into the wild

3) How do you deal with the humongous anthill in your backyard?
a. Poison it with toxins or something else that will kill the ants
b. Shovel it up and dump the ants in the park
c. Leave it alone

So how did you do?
If you answered mostly a's, you haven't given much thought to the feelings of animals. You may feel like you don't have the time to deal with them, or you just don't care. Try harder.
If you answered mostly b's, you do try to show compassion towards "pests", and you think about their point-of-view. But you could try harder. You may not be educated on proper pest control, and you draw the line where anything disconveniences you too much.
If you answered mostly c's, then you really hold the animals' interests in high esteem. Well done!

The "Answers" to the above questions:

1. Leave the insects alone, especially if they aren't overtaking your house. If you see insects who will starve if you let them stay indoors, let them outside, but only if the weather is good.
Flies should be regarded not as pests, but as guests-- read J. Allen Boone's opinion in his true story Kinship with All Life, on his new friend "Freddie the Fly":
  • "Curious to what his reactions might be, I abruptly tossed the little fellow into the air. It did not disturb him in the least; in fact he seemed to like it. He cruised slowly just above my head, but when I pointed my finger up in his direction, down he came, landing on the fingertip as though he and I had been doing such things for a long time. I did this again and again, but every time he was tossed off he would always return...."
Animals are much smarter than we give them credit for. Don't end their lives just because of convenience.

2. Although you may not see a difference between b and c for this one, there is indeed a big difference. Catch-and-release exterminators are not always what they are publicized as. "Humane" companies may end up killing the animals anyway. If you do hire a company, do plenty of research, get some references, and make sure it is okay for you to go with them to release the animals. Make sure that the animals ARE released.

3. Always leave anthills alone. They will disappear come winter anyway. While shovelling them away may seem humane, you are dislocating them, subjecting them to confusion and possible death. Always try to co-exist with wildlife in your area.

In conclusion, give pests a rest, treat them like guests, and don't kill their nests! Not the best poem, but a good message!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Action IV: Why wool isn't cool

Hey there. This week I've decided to talk a bit about the wool industry. You might be thinking, "well, what's wrong with wool? It doesn't hurt them or kill them or force them to do anything." Well, it actually does all three, the extremity of which depending on the type of farm they are kept on.
Wool animals typically have to go through the cruel industry breeding system, which is merciless and does not take into account the emotions of the animals there. Some animals may be auctioned off and end up as dinner at a fancy restaurant. Furthermore, they aren't sheared by hand. Instead, there are machines that shear them, and, obviously, machines do not take into account the suble movements of the gentle creatures, so they end up with little cuts on their bodies. They are shipped around the world, and the ones who are too weak to carry on are left to die. Once in Australia or New Zealand, a kind woman took in a dying sheep and nursed her back to health. The sheep proved to be a wonderful companion!
Admittedly, sometimes the situation is different. For example, I went to an alpaca farm and the alpacas were treated better than this. However, these alpacas were raised as pets, not as an industry. Anyway, it is still irresponsible to breed animals into the world as toys for our enjoyment and when there are still so many who need homes.
Not all animals in the wool industry have hooves, however. Angora rabbits are highly prized for their wool, even today. A few months ago, I looked at the tag on my old sweater and discovered that it was made of Angora wool! I was shocked! I couldn't deal with the thought of the suffering that went into it, so I donated it right away. You see, most angora rabbits are bred in China, according to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation's Report. From the same source, Chinese Angora rabbits are kept at temperatures around 30 degrees Celcius! That is quite hot for us humans, but rabbits with all that fur must be sweltering! I could go on, but I hope that gives you an idea.
There are definitely alternatives to end this cruel practice. You can find acrilic and cotton fibers to knit with (I like knitting; I tried it last weekend), and so many clothing options are available in stores. It may come down to curbing a shopping impulse here and there, but most wool is heavy and scratchy anyway, so why would anyone want it to begin with?
Things you can do to stop the wool industry in it's tracks:
1) Stop using wool!
2) Encourage your friends and family to stop using wool and get them to read about why.
3) Ask a store that uses a lot of wool to stop producing wool clothes, and don't shop there until they do.
4) Spread the word! Post on your blogs, websites, and social networking sites to stop using wool, or simply post a link to my blog.
I hope you found this post interesting and useful! And come back to learn how to have an animal-friendly Christmas next week! And in the meantime, answer the poll shown to the right!

For your interest, I have included this table from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation's Report to give you an idea of which animals are most used for wool.
 Table 1. World production of animal fibres (from Leeder et al 1998)
Animal Source vs. World Production (tons)
Sheep fine wool 100,000
Goat mohair 25,000
Rabbit angora 8,500
Goat cashmere 5,200
Alpaca 4,000

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Action III: Going pure vegetarian

In my opinion, the absolute best thing that you can do for animals is to stop eating them. It sounds pretty obvious, right? I know a lot of people who would like to go vegetarian or think it would be cool, but they don't commit themselves to doing it. This is because from the moment we are born, we are constantly exposed to people consuming animal products and told that it is the "normal" and "healthy" way of doing things. Have you ever, as a child in particular, questioned meat-eating? I know I did. But my (clueless at the time) parents told me that it's just the way the world works and that it "doesn't hurt the cow". I think everyone knows that this is false, but to what degree?

Cows: The meat and dairy industries go hand-in-hand. When calves are born, if they are female, they are either carted off to the dairy industry or slaughtered right away. If they are male, they are almost always turned into veal by being locked up in veal crates, deprived of iron and denied of exercise so that they have white, anemic flesh. They are not even allowed metal cages, as they may try to lick the iron off of the metal. After a few months, they are then slaughtered. The cows in the dairy industry do not have it good either. They are kept in substandard conditions, and the calves never meet their mothers or fathers. Please read my article on the Teen Ink website to hear about my trip to a small, family-run dairy farm. As you can see, even the ones that aren't specifically factory farms are inadequate. In any case, who are we to deprive calves of their mothers' milk and have them born into slavery just so we can drink something that doesn't even taste very good and decays our teeth? I have included a picture from the family-owned farm:

Pigs: I haven't done much research into the pork industry, because my family never ate it to begin with. However, I have learned that at pig farms, the animals are kept in small pens, with absolutely nothing to do, and subsequently end up chewing the bars and screaming when meal-time comes. It sounds brutal, but there would be no need for you to hear about it if it wasn't happening.

Chickens: Like dairy, humans take two things from hens: both flesh and eggs. Oh yeah, and freedom. Anyway, I went to that dairy farm and also saw the two chickens who the farmer kept.  The hens were tucked away in two little cages that were about as wide as they were themselves. When we came in, they were just standing there and staring at the wall. I felt very sorry for them. the breeding process works like this: when the chicks hatch, they are sorted into two categories, male and female. The industry almost always is only looking for females, so the males are killed and made into dog food, chicken soups and such. The females then are placed into the egg industry. So please realize that you shouldn't do eggs either!

Fish: Some people choose to be pesco-vegetarian, which means that they eat fish, but no other animals. But there is no reason for fish to be inferior to chickens and cows, is there? I think that people think it's okay to abuse fish because they are so different from us. However, there are some similarities. As marine biologist Sylvia Earle put it, “I wouldn't deliberately eat a grouper any more than I'd eat a cocker spaniel. They're so good-natured, so curious. You know, fish really are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they're wounded." Please don't support fisheries, which scoop up more than just fish-- also dolphins and seals-- and avoid fish from fish farms, which pile fish up in tanks while they're still alive. You save a lot more than fish by not eating them-- you also save other marine wildlife and your health. See for more details.

Being vegan is more than a diet. Veganism can really embrace many different aspects of living, like food, clothing, shopping habits, even the way you think about animals in general. I've just listed the animals used for food here because otherwise this post would be too long!
As for actually making the switch, it's easy. Just browse around your grocery store or health food shop and look for vegan tofu burgers, veggie dogs, soy milk, So Delicious Soy Ice Cream, and, of course, staples like bread, pasta, rice, fruits, veggies, beans, etc. Just read the ingredients list to make sure you don't have anything animal in it, okay? Some people find that it is easier to go vegetarian first. However, lacto-ovo vegetarianism should only be a step in the right direction, as, like I said, the industries are working together, so by being lacto-ovo vegetarian, your diet still kills animals, while veganism does no harm.
Come back next Sunday for more ways to help animals!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Action II: Boycott animal skins!

Have you ever realized how some people are opposed to fur, but they are absolutely fine with leather and sheepskin, etc? I have got to say that this is hypocritical. The method to attain these cruel products is always the same: kill the animal. So please don't buy ANY animal skins! This includes leather couches, jackets, belts, keychains, and saddles, sheepskin gloves, hats and boots (like Uggs), and, of course, fur coats, rugs, and other things. The whole point is to reduce animal suffering. There are so many alternatives to animal skins, including faux fur, fake leather, even faux crocodile skin! I have heard a story about crocodiles being raised in little tanks with their mouths taped shut in a dark room. That is all preventable. Here is a quote that I like:

"When you dress in suede or leather,
or some fancy fur or feather,
do you stop and wonder whether,
for a fad,
you have killed some beast or other?
And you're wearing someone's brother,
or perhaps it's someone's mother
in which you're clad!"
-Dr. Doolittle

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Action I: Helping Companion Animals

Many of us have animals other than humans in our families nowadays. But many of the "pets" are so unhappy, it is hard to imagine that they consider us family! Even if you don't have companion animals, there are still ways to help them. Here are some ideas:

 1) If you have pets:
    How much time do you spend with them every day? Some days, it can be easy to ignore them completely, save for feeding them. It is important to consider your pets as you do your family. I know you wouldn't lock up the kid you're baby-sitting in a cage with metal bars! How are animals any different? Therefore, try to spend lots of time with your pets each day, even if it is just sitting and reading a book near them.
If you have a hamster or little animal who would escape and die if you didn't keep her in a cage, please make sure to give her the biggest, most luxurious cage possible! Always consider how you might feel in the animals' situation and give them the best life possible.

2) Other people's pets:
   Obviously, we aren't going to barge into our neighbours' houses and demand that they take better care of their companion animals. Instead, we can do any of the following:
  • report abuse. If you see people kicking their dog down the front steps or even just leaving their dog out in the cold with no water for a very long time, call the humane society or SPCA immediately. You could end up saving his or her life.
  • petsit. Looking for extra cash? Put up signs around the neighbourhood for a petsitting service, or tell your neighbours, friends, and family about it. By petsitting, we can make sure that the animals are treated properly (instead of letting them go off to some cheap old kennel) by walking them, playing with them, or even just reading a book while they lie on the rug at our feet. We can also make sure that they have responsible owners, so when the people come back, we can give them tips on what they could be doing differently. Honestly, it works.
  • dog walk. Many people claim to not have time to walk their dogs. But you can really spice up a doggy's life by offering to take him on a walk, for free or for cash. You can put up signs for a dog-walking service, or if you see a dog who never seems to get outside, offer to walk with him for free. I have also done things like this, and it is a great experience.
There you go! Some ideas. Please post comments and check off which box applies to how you felt about this post. I love hearing feedback!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Culminating the 3 essential skills

Before we start with the how-you-can-help, we have to first discuss what will keep you motivated; this is what I call the 3 essential skills.
  1. Empathy: Empathy is a sense of feeling for others, and, in our case, animals. We all have empathy, but sometimes living off in "our own little worlds" for a long time can desensitize us. If your life is just go-go-go, you'll be so busy that everything else that matters in life will seem insignificant.
  •  How to culminate this skill: Read up on animal rights issues. Try to imagine what the animals are going through. I've found that simply starting to change my lifestyle to be more animal-friendly has helped a lot, too. It made me start to be more empathetic. Now, I can hardly believe that I used to eat animals, wear their wool, abandon socializing time with my animals for computer games, and pretty much live ignorantly of the world's problems and how I can help. Another strategy that I use when my empathy fades a little is to spend time outside, watching a squirrel high up in the trees. After watching that squirrel for a long time, it became more evident that he or she is not just a decoration or passerby. That squirrel has a life, for she has to find food and a warm place to sleep at night, as do we. She may have some squirrel children to feed and keep warm, as all mothers do. She wants to keep out of danger and find a mate, like most humans do. This strategy really gets you thinking. My last strategy would be to volunteer at a shelter or visit a farm to see the animals firsthand.
            2. Imagination: Imagination is important to cultivate because we need to imagine what others are   going through when we cannot literally live "in their shoes." We may say that it is OK to keep a bird in a cage because we aren't hurting the bird. But imagine: how would you like to be locked up in a cage? How would you like to have the main source of transport (for birds, this would be their wings; for us, it is our legs) taken away from you so that you cannot escape? How would you like to be fed the same boring old food every day?
    • How to cultivate this skill: Every time you see an animal who is kept for human use or amusement, find out his life story and ask yourself, "How would I feel if I was this animal?"
       I am not saying that it is always wrong to keep pets, especially if they are your family. (Just adopt from a shelter!) But it is good to remember that they have feelings. In the past, humanity has enslaved those of its own kind, and they turned a blind eye to that, too. People who stood up against slavery had to imagine how gruelling the slaves' lives must have been. You can do this, too.
        3. Motivation: We need to keep focused when working to help animals.  It is the only way we can accomplish things.
    • Keep up your empathy, set goals, reward yourself for achievements, and try hard.
    Believe me, it is all worth it!

    Saturday, October 22, 2011


    Good day, and welcome to the Animal Rights Action Site. This is my second blog (my first is , which focuses on the environment). Please sign up as a follower of this blog, so that we can work together and make a brighter future for the animals! I post every Sunday.
    This blog focuses on taking action in all areas to do with animal rights and welfare, like pet shops, animals used for food and fur, responsible vs. irresponsible treatment of pets, environmentalism, animal testing vs. ethical products, etc.
    Please support one of my blogs at least! The future of the world is in our hands!