Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Balancing Your Life: Saving the World and Taking Care of Yourself at the Same Time

Many people talk about work-life balance, but the concept of work-life balance is slightly different for animal rights activists and compassionate vegans. You see, people almost always become activists because they care about something deeply. The boundaries between "work" and "life" are blurred, and that's probably a good thing, too: when your work becomes a relevent part of your life, you're more likely to enjoy the work you do and live by your values. Some activists feel guilty about stopping to relax and take care of themselves when there are so many animals suffering in the world. On the other hand, other people want to help animals, but they're too caught up in their own bubble of problems and concerns that they feel they just can't reach outside of themselves to make a difference.
It's important to retain a healthy balance between activism/volunteerism and taking care of yourself and your relationships without neglecting one or the other.

Take time to help the animals!
If you want to make a difference but feel too caught up in other things to have time to help animals, please re-evaluate your priorities. Making a difference doesn't have to be a huge commitment. It can be something as simple as a blog (like this one!-- which is remarkably easy to upkeep, by the way) or going leafleting once a month. It's so easy nowadays to get brainwashed by this crazy consumer culture that tells you to only care about yourself-- your comfort, your money, your happiness, your health, your date, your stuff, your weight loss plan, etc. Think about it-- how many hours a day do you spend focusing on helping yourself? How many hours a day do you spend helping humans/animals/the environment?
...It can be pretty surprising just how easy it is to get swept away on the "me-me-me" bandwagon. While you shouldn't neglect yourself (and, sometimes, people in poor financial or health situations need to devote all their energy and time to simply surviving, and I don't blame them for that), please remember to take the time to reach outside of yourself to help others if you can. Not only is it simply a good thing to do, it's also good for you!

Take time to help yourself!
That being said, some activists may feel like they can't stop trying to help animals. It simply makes them feel too guilty to stop-- there are, after all, billions of animals imprisoned and killed each year in the animal industries. It's great that you want to help animals-- I do, too!-- but make sure that you keep yourself healthy and sane while you're at it. If you eat nothing but veggie burgers on white bread and potato chips because you're too busy trying to save animals to prepare real food, eventually your health will probably fail. Then you won't be able to help animals very much, which is bad for the animals (and you'll probably become very unhappy!).

Have a great, balanced week!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Remembering Animal Victims of War on Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is this Monday. While most people use this time to remember the countless human lives lost to warfare, we can also take the time on Remembrance Day to remember another group who have suffered and continue to suffer in human conflict-- animals.
Animals are forced to help humans fight bloody wars, whether the animals want to help or not. In this way, they can be considered victims of warfare.
Eight million horses died in World War I. Mules, donkeys, dogs, pigeons, elephants, camels, oxens, bullocks, cats, canaries, glow worms, and probably other species, too, have all been used for warfare by British, Commonwealth, and Allied forces in 20th century conflicts, and countless animal lives have been lost as a result. For more information on how these animals have specifically been used in warfare, please see Animals in War Memorial Fund's website, http://www.animalsinwar.org.uk/index.cfm?asset_id=1375.

From Animal Aid, here are some of the many ways animals have suffered in war:

"Collateral damage: Some of the most indelible images of the 1991 Gulf War showed the scorched and bloated bodies of camels abandoned in the shadow of burning oil wells. Photographer Steve McCurry describes ‘driving through the oilfields for several weeks after the hostilities ended and often [coming] across cattle, camels and horses wandering around like zombies. I guess most died eventually – all the water holes and vegetation were covered in oil‘. (Blood in the Sand, The
 Guardian newspaper, G2 section February 14, 2003).
Willful assaults: During the Serbian conflict – also in the early 1990s – bored or hyped-up soldiers amused themselves by taking shots at wild animals. Zoo inmates were starved, beaten, fired upon and even attacked with grenades.
The deserted ones: These include the farmed animals abandoned in their sheds or in fields once the shooting starts. And dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs and birds left alone in people’s houses after those people take off to escape the mayhem. The animals starve and cry out for water, while the terrifying din of gunfire and explosions sound around them.
Front line victims: We can go back to the ancient Greeks and their use in pitched battles of Indian elephants – or consider the recent deployment of German Shepherd dogs, parachuted into Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan to search buildings for the enemy. A new generation of animal conscripts is even more expertly controlled and manipulated than those in the past – dolphins trained under extreme psychological and physical duress; and rats with gadgets implanted into their brains so that they can be directed, punished and rewarded at the tap of a keyboard.
Animals in weapons research: In Britain, most war-related vivisection is conducted by the Ministry of Defence in Porton Down, Wiltshire. Animals have been poisoned by chemical warfare agents, subjected to blast injuries, force-fed sensory irritants and deliberately wounded and killed by bacterial toxins. Porton scientists have described how monkeys, dosed with the nerve agent soman, became prostrate with violent convulsions, made attempts to crawl about the cage and then lost consciousness."
- Excerpt from "PREFACE FOR 'Animals and War: Confronting the Military-Animal Industrial Complex' (Lexington Press) - By Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid" from http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/NEWS/news_other//2974//


Animal Aid, the UK's largest animal rights group, provides purple poppies to be worn alongside red poppies on Remembrance Day. The purple poppy is a way to remember the animal victims of war. This year (2013), Animal Aid are unable to fulfill any more orders for poppies, but please buy one of their purple poppies in 2014 or later to show your support for the animals (or make your own purple poppy). Those in the UK may be able to find these poppies being sold in various UK shops. You can also purchase Animal Aid's Purple Poppy Car Sticker to raise awareness for this important issue. On Animal Aid's website, the organization lists other ways to get involved: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/CAMPAIGNS/living//2256//. (Please note that those living outside of the UK must purchase at least one non-poppy item along with the poppy items so that you can have your order placed.) (I only hope that the poppies aren't made of animal-derived felt!-- although I doubt that they would be, since Animal Aid is an animal rights group.)
Even if you don't wear any poppies, you can still take a moment to contemplate the human and animal cost of war this Remembrance Day.
purple poppy
Photo Courtesy of Animal Aid: http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/CAMPAIGNS/living//2256//
purple-poppy-appeal
Photo Courtesy of On the Wight: http://onthewight.com/2012/11/05/purple-poppy-appeal-remembering-the-animal-victims-of-war/

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ChooseVeg.com: A Great Resource for Making Veganism Easy and Fun

ChooseVeg.com (or ChooseVeg.ca for the Canadian version) is a website run by Mercy for Animals that explains the reasons for going vegan and provides really cool how-to's on vegan eating. It's a bright, colourful website that is really fun to look at. You simply click on a section you want to read about, and scroll down the page at your leisure!


Here's a screen capture from the BAM (Build A Meal) section of their website.
If you know anyone who wants advice on going vegan, please tell them about this site! If you are trying to incorporate more vegan recipes into your life or are looking for some vegan inspiration, why not check out the website yourself?
Veganism is a very powerful way of living by the value of compassion. This is put into practice in a practical manner by the more than a hundred animals whose lives are spared when you cease to consume their flesh, lactations, and eggs. (Obviously, those specific animals you would have otherwise eaten aren't saved from death-- unless you were going to hunt for them and kill them yourself-- but over time, with many people going vegan every year, the animal industries will exploit and murder less and less animals because there will be less of a demand for their products. And anyway, simply being a vegan is a statement to the world that you are ready to live by compassionate values. It also encourages others to follow your lead.) You can see some progress that vegetarians and vegans have already made in this graph by Vegan Outreach:

Total Meat & Poultry Consumption Per Capita
Courtesy of Vegan Outreach (I'm not sure if this repesents global statistics, or simply those for the USA.)
If you're not already a vegan, please take the step and try it for at least a month! A one-month commitment should be enough time to help you get used to the vegan diet and realize how great it really is. It may seem like a big leap to commit to being a vegan, but you hopefuly will want to remain a vegan after you take that first step-- which is truly a great thing for the animals.

Courtesy of veganismisnonviolence.com



Dairy is great violence. Please go vegan
Courtesy of veganismisnonviolence.com


 
Anyway, please go ahead and check out ChooseVeg.com or ChooseVeg.ca!