Sunday, December 14, 2014

Vegan Healthy Recipes for the Christmas Season!

The Christmas season is coming up! If you're looking for ideas on cruelty-free, vegan, healthy recipes to prepare for the holidays, here are some ideas!:



Festive Chickpea Tart from Dreena Burton's Plant-Powered Kitchen
http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/vegan-thanksgiving-christmas-recipes/
ARV's Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
http://almostrawvegan.com/2011/12/30/gingerbread-cookie-balls-raw-vegan/


Of course, there are many vegan cookbooks as well as other vegan recipes online that you could look at, too.

Here are some of my previous blog posts on having an animal-friendly, Earth-friendly, vegan Christmas. I hope you find them helpful!:

"Animal- and Eco-Friendly Christmas Ideas!":
http://theanimalrightsactionsite.blogspot.ca/2013/12/animal-and-eco-friendly-christmas-ideas.html

"Healthy Vegan Desserts Just in Time for the Holidays!": http://theanimalrightsactionsite.blogspot.ca/2013/12/healthy-vegan-desserts-just-in-time-for.html

"Vegan on Christmas": http://theanimalrightsactionsite.blogspot.ca/2012/11/vegan-on-christmas.html

"Action VI: The Animal-Friendly Christmas": http://theanimalrightsactionsite.blogspot.ca/2011/12/action-vi-animal-friendly-christmas.html

"Surviving Non-Vegan Meals with Family and Friends": http://theanimalrightsactionsite.blogspot.ca/2012/07/surviving-non-vegan-meals-with-family.html

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2014

International Animal Rights Day

Hi everyone,
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 is International Animal Rights Day! International Animal Rights Day (IARD) takes place on December 10th of every year. There is not currently very much information online about it, but that doesn't mean that people can't acknowledge it!
This Wednesday, I hope we all can try to do something special to help the animals. :) I've written some ideas on some ways to make a difference in my previous blog post, which can be found at http://theanimalrightsactionsite.blogspot.ca/2014/11/november-is-world-vegan-month.html.

I don't have one of these on my blog, but on the "Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach" website, http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/, they have an "Animal Kill Counter", which shows you the shockingly high "Number of animals killed in the world by the meat, dairy and egg industries, since you opened this webpage." (This feature is actually on a number of animal rights websites.) I wouldn't put one of these on my blog, because it's so disturbing. However, if you want to get a numerical impression of how many animals are being slaughtered, you could go to that website and scroll down a bit to see it.

Animals all over the world are in horrible suffering at human hands right now. If the world goes vegan and animal testing is abolished, this suffering could be enormously reduced. If you haven't gone vegan yet, please do so today. Together, if we raise awareness about animal rights, join or start campaigns, and follow a cruelty-free lifestyle, we can and do make a difference, even if change is frustratingly slow-going sometimes.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
-Margaret Mead

Have hope, passion, resolve, and compassion. Let's keep working to make the world a better place!

Friday, November 21, 2014

November is World Vegan Month!

Hello everyone!
That's right-- this month is World Vegan Month. :)
On November 1, 2014, which is World Vegan Day, the "world's first vegan football [soccer] match", to quote The Vegan Society, was held! You can read more about it on The Vegan Society's website or on the Gloucestershire Vegans' blog.
Although veganism is something that should be practiced year-round, World Vegan Month provides us with an extra opportunity to raise awareness. Readers, I challenge each of you to do at least one thing this month to raise awareness for the animals and the vegan lifestyle. Please take this challenge-- the animals need our help. Here are some ideas...
  1. If you haven't gone vegan yet, become a vegan! This is the number one thing you can do for the animals!
  2. Host a vegan lunch or dinner, and invite friends and family to come try some delicious food. If you want, you could even make it a potluck and ask them to bring along a vegan dish for everyone to try.
  3. Bake some vegan treats and give them away to your friends, family, co-workers, classmates, clients, teachers, etc. This will help them to understand that vegan food can be delicious as well as ethical. (Make sure to tell them that the food is vegan!)
  4. Wear clothes and buttons and carry tote bags that have slogans on them that promote veganism and animal rights.
  5. Ask your local library and bookstores to set up a display of books on veganism.
  6. If you are a student or a teacher, here are some things you can do at school: put a message proclaiming World Vegan Month on the announcements, in the school newsletter, and on calendars; have a vegan bake sale; give out free vegan food samples; put up posters on the school bulletin boards (with permission, of course); hold screenings of documentaries; invite guest speakers to come and speak to classes on veganism; ask the cafeteria to serve more vegan options; hand out leaflets; start a vegan or animal rights club; and have a table offering literature and information in the hallways.
  7. Do a blog post, Facebook update, etc. on veganism and animal rights.
  8. Write a letter to the editor educating readers on the benefits and ethics of veganism. (It's probably more likely to get published if you mention that this month is World Vegan Month!)
  9. Put up posters on telephone poles, community bulletin boards, etc. advocating for veganism. You can print off some posters for free from the Abolitionist Vegan Society's website: http://www.abolitionistvegansociety.org/posters-for-printing/#.VG-lt4t0yUn
  10. Hand out materials advocating for veganism-- the Abolitionist Vegan Society (TAVS) (which is now my favourite animal rights organization) provides free downloadable bookmarks, cards, colouring pages for kids, leaflets, tear-off posters, slips, and posters for you to print out! You can see their resources here: http://www.abolitionistvegansociety.org/tavs-initiatives/tavs-resources/#.VG-mCot0yUk
  11. TAVS also has posters that you can publish on your Tumblr, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other online pages: http://www.abolitionistvegansociety.org/tavs-initiatives/tavs-resources/posters-for-online-use/#.VG-mWot0yUk.
  12. Additionally, TAVS has online videos you can watch and share. I haven't watched them, but I agree with most of TAVS' overall values, so I think the videos would probably be good: http://www.abolitionistvegansociety.org/videos/#.VG-mXot0yUk. And they have audios, as well: http://www.abolitionistvegansociety.org/tavs-audio/#.VG-mWot0yUk
  13. There's a currently free Kindle e-book available on Amazon.com called Why We Should Go Vegan by Magnus Vinding. I have not read it, but it might be interesting to look at, if you have a Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IHPBCOS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00IHPBCOS&linkCode=as2&tag=volentiacom-20&linkId=GUG7AO7B7Z4LCBZE
  14. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to post them below in the comments section! :)
Hmmm... Coming up next, I think I'd like to do a post specifically on TAVS (which, as I'm sure you've noticed, I am particularly fond of!), or perhaps something else on philosophy... Or, likely, both mixed together!
See you then!

Cat
20140506
Picture from http://www.abolitionistvegansociety.org/tavs-initiatives/tavs-resources/posters-for-online-use/#.VG-mWot0yUk

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mercy For Animals Inspirational Short Video

Hello everyone,
This is a pretty neat video. It gives a reminder of some of the reasons why people choose a vegan lifestyle, and it also provides a unique insight into the fact that people from many different walks of life are vegan. You can view it right here on my blog or on Mercy for Animals' website at http://www.mercyforanimals.org/i-am-mfa.aspx.


Have a nice day! :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Petition: "University of Wisconsin: Cancel The Unethical Torture and Killing of Baby Monkeys!"

Hi everyone,
There's a petition by Dr. Ruth Decker, M.D., J.D., M.B.A., on Change.org called "University of Wisconsin: Cancel The Unethical Torture and Killing of Baby Monkeys!" that still needs more signatures.
 
Says Dr. Decker,
"As an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine, I am horrified to learn that my alma mater plans to conduct highly controversial and cruel experiments that will torture and kill baby monkeys.
The experiments, led by Dr. Ned Kalin, will take newborn rhesus macaque monkeys away from their mothers (who have been restrained or drugged against their will while their baby is removed). The defenseless baby monkeys are then sent to solitary confinement—where they are terrorized and exposed to anxiety-inducing stressors including live snakes, painful skin-punch biopsies, and stressful brain scans. After this relentless torture, they are killed before the age of two."
Dr. Decker's petition is calling for the plans for these experiments to be cancelled at once.
 
Please visit the petition webpage and sign the petition: http://www.change.org/p/university-of-wisconsin-cancel-the-unethical-torture-and-killing-of-baby-monkeys?tk=LkFvaJbcdoAlzT8TI01jbPZp2HyKpkCImJZlqxD02S0&utm_source=petition_update&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_update_email
Thanks.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tell Quaker Oats To Say No To Dairy!

Hi again,
I know this is the third post I'm doing in a relatively short amount of time, but I've just received an e-mail from the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (which happens to be one of my favourite organizations!) announcing that Quaker Oats is planning on doing a campaign this October promoting dairy consumption. According to PCRM, "MilkPEP, a milk promotion program funded by the dairy industry, is behind the promotion."

As PCRM points out,
"Milk is one of the top sources of saturated fat in the American diet, exacerbating America's No. 1 killer: heart disease. It also increases the risk of certain cancers. Just two and a half servings of milk per day increase the risk of prostate cancer by 34 percent. And research from the Iowa Women's Health Study shows that women who consume more than one glass of milk per day have a 73 percent greater chance of developing ovarian cancer, compared with women who drank less than one glass per day."

This is shocking news in itself-- but when you consider the very big fact that the dairy industry is cruel and unfair for the animals, it becomes even more horrifying that Quaker Oats would promote the consumption of milk at all.

Why is the dairy industry cruel? Here's a very brief list of some of the reasons:
  • Mother cows are taken away from their babies.
  • Cows are usually kept in cramped, confined conditions.
  • Female cows are artificially inseminated, and must be repeatedly impregnated in order to keep producing milk.
  • Male calves are often sold to spend the rest of their lives in veal crates, while female calves are either cycled back into the dairy system or slaughtered. Veal calves are purposely given low-iron diets so that they become anemic, therefore having pale flesh. They are not allowed to run around, because exercise would toughen their muscles and make their meat tougher.
  • Cows are often fed corn and other "foods" that are unhealthy for cows to eat.
  • Animals have the right to be free. They are not "tools" for ours to use. Cows should not be our milk-producing machines. If dogs, for example, were treated the way cows are on dairy farms and "milked" to provide a product for human consumption (after all, all mammals produce milk), there would be public outrage (rightfully so!). Cows are curious, sentient creatures, just like dogs are. It is cruel to treat cows the way they are routinely treated, and it is wrong for them to be "owned" at all.
  • Many more reasons!
You can see a video showing some of the horrific things that happen to dairy cows here: http://milkiscruel.com/ The website Milk is Cruel is put together by Mercy For Animals. If you'd rather see less graphic pictures and read up on factory farming, you can go to http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Animal_Rights%20factory%20Farming%20.htm. Think Differently About Sheep is a REALLY cool website.

PCRM has a petition that you can sign to tell Quaker Oats that promoting dairy is not acceptable. You can sign the petition by following this link!

Please sign the petition-- stop itravel2000 from promoting animal cruelty!

itravel2000 is a popular travel website to help Canadians plan their vacations. According to a petition on Care2, itravel2000 encourages people to go to "amusement parks where dolphins, killer whales, and belugas are held captive." The petition is asking itravel2000 to remove these destinations from their website. Good idea!

The petition is still a bit short on signatures. Please sign the petition and share it with people you know, before it gets sent off to the travel website in about a week! Thanks!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Statistics Canada: Canadians are Eating Less Meat!

According to Statistics Canada, in 2013 Canadians ate 10% less meat than in 2001, and 1.5% less than in 2012. In other words, meat consumption is decreasing! This is great news! More and more people are going vegan every year as they realize how their dietary and lifestyle choices affect the animals, the environment, and their health.

You can see some related statistics on Mercy for Animals' blog: http://www.mfablog.ca/canadians-eating-less-meat


Source: http://thevegantruth.blogspot.ca/2012/05/am-i-vegan-clearly-defining-who-is-and.html

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Colgate and Tom's of Maine-- Not Animal-Friendly in My Books

Hi everyone!
I've recently learned that the company I get my toothpaste from-- Tom's of Maine-- is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, which tests on animals. Although Tom's of Maine itself does not do animal testing, the fact that their parent company does has persuaded me to switch to a different brand of toothpaste.
I've also decided to send a message to Colgate-Palmolive asking them to stop testing on animals once and for all. Below I've pasted a copy of this message. If you would like, feel free to copy and paste the message (with any edits to make it more applicable to you) into the online form at http://www.colgate.ca/app/Colgate/CA/EN/Corp/ContactUs/ConsumerAffairs/ContactForm.cvsp to increase the number of people who are demanding this company to go cruelty-free. Or, if you'd like, you can write your own message (which is probably a better way of getting the company's attention, so they'll be more likely to read each individual message instead of just skimming a lot of them).


"Hello,
I am writing to you because I have recently learned that your company does testing on animals. I am appalled that there are still companies such as yours that do animal testing. Animal testing is unnecessary and terribly cruel. It also dissuades potential customers from buying your products in the future.
There are alternatives to animal testing that many other companies employ. Now that I know about your animal testing record, I have decided to switch to a different brand of toothpaste that is not owned by a company that tests on animals.
Colgate, please stop animal testing and using animal-tested ingredients. In doing this, you may be able to win back some of your ethically-minded customers, or at least prevent any more damage from being done both to your fan base and the animals, the latter having no voice in this matter.
Sincerely,
[Cat]"
Leaping Bunny
The Leaping Bunny: www.LeapingBunny.org
To find out which companies that make cosmetics, personal care products, animal care products, and household products are animal testing-free, you can go to the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics' website, http://www.leapingbunny.org/shopping.php, and do a search-- or, if you'd like, you can scroll down on that page, look beneath the "Get Your Own Shopping Guide" heading, and order a guide or download the PDF guide for free. Their guide notes if the company is owned by a parent company that tests on animals.

Photo
Picture from  https://www.facebook.com/leapingbunny/photos/a.365637005501.152863.48644720501/10152533914655502/?type=1&theater or https://www.facebook.com/leapingbunny
Remember, every time you spend (or don't spend) money on a product, you're letting the companies know what you want and what you don't want in a product and company. It's even better if you can specify what exactly you like and don't like by contacting the companies, too! I think it's best to not buy very much in general, but when you do buy things, it's important to support the most ethical and sustainable companies.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Antibiotics Given to Farm Animals-- Dangerous for the Animals and Humans

I recently got the latest e-newsletter from Mercy for Animals Canada that included a link to an article on their website about the use of antibiotics on Canadian factory farms.


"...healthy farmed animals are routinely administered antibiotics to prevent them from becoming sick from the cramped and squalid factory farms in which they spend their lives. These antibiotics can be purchased along with fencing and footwear from farm supply stores.
"According to the World Health Organization, unless antibiotic use is curtailed, today's treatable infections will become tomorrow's deadly illnesses."
You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.mfablog.ca/2014/07/antibiotic-misuse-runs-rampant-on-canadian-factory-farms.html



Photo from Farm Sanctuary website
Antibiotics are known to cause harm to the human gut biome by killing probiotics. The "farm" animals almost certainly would experience health problems caused by the routine antibiotics as well.
Some people would argue that animals kept for food should be raised on "natural", "free-range" farms, so that human health isn't adversely affected and the animals don't suffer as much as they are suffering now. It's great that these people can see that there is something wrong with the current system, but switching to "natural" meat, milk, and eggs isn't going to solve the problem. Animals are not ours to exploit and "farm" as we wish. They are sentient creatures who deserve to be free.


There is also the fact that there simply isn't enough land or resources on Earth to sustainably feed everyone with animal flesh. According to Worldwatch Institute,


"...as environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future—deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease."
See the rest of the in-depth document here: http://www.worldwatch.org/system/files/EP174A.pdf


To make the switch to a vegan diet (if you haven't done so already!), please see www.ChooseVeg.com or www.ChooseVeg.ca, or take out a good book on veganism from the library. There are lots of books to choose from!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Arturo, "The World's Saddest Animal"

Sad case: Arturo - Spanish for Arthur - has been at the zoo for two decades, and has had no contact with his own kind since Pelusa died. Now, campaigners are worried that he is suffering mental health issues
Arturo
I recently signed a petition on Change.org calling for Arturo, a polar bear who has been dubbed by many to be "The World's Saddest Animal", to be transferred from his current location at the Mendoza zoo in Argentina to the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg.
Arturo lives in inadequate, hot conditions in the Argentina zoo. A narrated Youtube video (which you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxSZF-3rIt0; NOTE: following a warning, it gets graphic partway through-- I didn't watch through to the end) shows that Arturo and a brown bear in another enclosure at the zoo were exhibiting stereotypic behaviour. In the video, Arturo looks sad and lonely. Many people consider him to be depressed, which is very believable when you look at the photos. According to the Daily Mail, "The polar bear has been alone in his enclosure since his partner, Pelusa, died of cancer in 2012. Visitors to the zoo, and animal experts, had reported seeing him pacing nervously in his concrete enclosure, and appearing to struggle with the high temperatures." Although his enclosure is air-conditioned, he still has to spend time in temperatures of "up to 40C (104F)", according to the Daily Mail and others. It is said that his pool is only 50 cm (20 inches) deep. A polar bear should not be kept in sweltering hot temperatures in Argentina! Polar bears are built to live in the cold northern regions of the world, with plenty of space to roam free. Winnipeg seems like a much more suitable option for Arturo; the conditions of the zoo are said to be "world-class". (Of course, animals shouldn't be kept in zoos, but once you've kept an animal in a zoo for his or her whole life, they may not be able to survive in the wild anymore, in which case they just need to be kept in the best, most natural conditions as possible for the rest of their life.)
Unfortunately, the Mendoza zoo is refusing to transfer Arturo. I was saddened to learn this shortly after signing the petition. The zoo claims that Arturo isn't in good enough health to be transferred. They are claiming that his poor health and sad behaviours are due to old age. (As if! If a polar bear acted like this in the wild, he or she would be considered seriously unwell and/or seriously unhappy.)
If you'd like to sign the petition anyway, here's the link: Change.org
Just a reminder, everyone, please boycott zoos! Also, we all need to raise awareness about the plight of the animals who are exploited by humans. Every time we educate someone else about the way animals are being harmed, we make a difference. Even if that person doesn't go vegan and boycott animal exploitation right away, we've at least planted a seed in their mind about the matter, so that eventually they may make the right decisions. I'm definitely not suggesting that people can justify hurting animals by saying that they're "not ready to change their lifestyle yet", but at least by raising awareness, they will hopefully become more likely to make good choices in the long run.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Breedism: A Valid Concern

Quite a while ago now, I saw a picture with this logo on it on the Internet...
This shirt (and another one like it) is being sold on PETA's website. The text on the shirt reads,
"FIGHT BREEDISM
ADOPT
EACH YEAR
8 MILLION
DOGS AND CATS
ARE DUMPED AT
ANIMAL SHELTERS
MORE THAN HALF
NEVER FIND A HOME
BREEDING ANIMALS
= KILLING ANIMALS
NEVER BUY"

(I don't know where they get that statistic. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the number of cats and dogs who are euthanized in shelters every year in the United States is 2.7 million. And on PETA's own website, the number is 3 to 4 million cats and dogs who are euthanized per year in animal shelters. Either way, the numbers are staggering and horrific.

When I first saw it, I wondered if breedism is really a valid concern. Is the notion of fighting "breedism" taking it too far?
Now that I've considered it, my answer to that question is, quite simply, no! Breedism is indeed a valid concern with real consequences. When you read the rest of the shirt, you can see that "breedism" is referring to how people buy animals from breeders or pet shops just for the sake of having a "pure-bred" pet (or a specific breed, such as a pug, Pomeranian, or husky). This, in turn, means that there are less homes for shelter animals and more money going to the breeders, who then can breed more animals, so the cycle continues. As a result, animals die in shelters because they aren't being adopted-- and this is at least partially due to "breedism".
A dog is a living, sentient being, regardless of what he or she looks like. If you want to have a dog to live with you, adopt one who is in need. That way, you'll be rescuing an innocent being from dying in an animal shelter (even if the particular animal you adopted would have been adopted anyway, the person who would have adopted your new dog or cat will then be able to adopt a different shelter animal, who perhaps would have been euthanized if they didn't adopt him or her), and you won't simply be "buying" an animal as if he or she is just a commodity.

Recently I opened up a couple books on dog and cat breeds, just wanting to look at the pictures. However, I was quite disgusted by the emphasis on "pure-breds" that so many self-professed "animal lovers" display. Do these people truly love animals for who they are as individuals, or only for their appearance and usefulness in dog/cat shows? In fact, breedism is in some ways comparable to speciesism, racism, and sexism, although it is more difficult to pinpoint.
If you have a favourite dog or cat breed, I'm not criticizing you for that. However, adopting a Pomeranian from a breeder just for the sake of having a Pomeranian is irresponsible when there are plenty of other dogs with various temperaments and needs waiting to be adopted from shelters.

Moral of the story: adopt! Don't buy! And, if you can, try to adopt a dog or cat who would otherwise have been overlooked at the shelters due to their looks, medical needs, etc.

As always, I hope you have a nice week!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Awesome Examples of Famous Vegetarians and Vegans Throughout History!

Hello everyone,
Need inspiration? Today we're sifting through inspiring info on famous vegetarians and vegans throughout history...

Why not take a look at the list of famous vegetarians and vegans on HappyCow.net? The link can be found here: http://www.happycow.net/famous_vegetarians.html. I warn you: there are a LOT of names on that list! Don't blame me if you end up spending a lot of time looking through them all :) This list can be useful if you want to look up the name of a particular individual, to see if they're veg*n or not.

Alternately, a more user-friendly list can be found at VeganWolf.com:  http://www.veganwolf.com/famous_vegetarians.htm#Bogus%20Vegetarians. On this website, you can go directly to different "categories" of people, such as Politicians; Actors & Filmstars; Sports Personalities; and Writers, Philosophers, Scientists. It's very inspirational.

If you'd like to read more in depth about some of these people, check out this article on Treehugger.com: http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/green-food/13-great-vegetarians-from-history/#slide-top.

Whew, that's a lot of links. If you don't want to look at any of those websites today, why not just watch this video instead? It made me cry the first time I watched it... (Make sure the sound is on.) For some of the people from ancient times, whether or not they were actually fully vegan/vegetarian is disputed, but I would think that most of the facts are correct/accurate.



Have a nice day!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Taking Action To Create a Better World: A Moral Imperative?

Once a person knows about many of the problems facing the world-- animal suffering on factory farms, environmental degradation, the epidemic of preventable disease in the Western world, starvation and malnourishment in many other parts of the world, and so much more-- that person would then be ethically required to do what they can to stop supporting those things. For example, once you find out about the exploitation of animals for "food", you really cannot even attempt to justify continuing to eat animal products. Similarly, once you learn about environmental degradation due to human activities, you should do what you can to reduce your environmental footprint. Going vegan, being eco-friendly, buying fair trade, using sustainable transportation, and eating healthily are great things to do, but are those things-- on their own-- not enough?
Once a person is aware of the problems in the world, does that person then have a moral imperative to actively work to help improve the state of the world?
That's what this blog post is about today :) . My answer to the bolded question above is, quite simply, "YES!"
People who are privileged enough to have access to proper education, food, water, etc. have a moral responsibility to help others (including animals) and/or the world, along with also avoiding doing harm. If you use up resources on the planet, it is only fair to give something back, after all!
Think about it: if a person isn't doing good in their spare time, then what are they doing instead? Entertaining himself/herself? It is simply unethical to "live for pleasure" when there are animals out there in terrible conditions, being exploited, killed, and tortured, not to mention the Earth being mutilated by humans, and people in all sorts of terrible conditions. When you learn about these things, it is a moral imperative to take action-- after all, we have a degree of responsibility towards others. It's just like if you saw a kid being beat up on the playground-- would you be the passive bystander, who watches for a while and then turns away? Or would you try to get involved by getting help from the police and/or stopping the bullies yourself? If you-- the bystander-- aren't at risk, then it would be cruel-hearted to ignore the desperate pleas of the kid for help.
Animals do not speak human language. They cannot hand out leaflets or go online and beg for us to take up their cause. But their suffering at human hands is horrendous. Therefore, it is so important for animal rights people like me (and hopefully you, whoever you are reading this right now) to advocate for them.
Of course, there are some circumstances in which a person cannot do anything-- for example, if they are in a position where all they can do is try to survive, such as if they're terribly poor or sick. However, everyone else can do something to help the world, even if it's simply starting a petition, leafleting, raising money for a good cause, buying animal rights books and/or vegan cookbooks to donate to your local library, volunteering, creating art to raise awareness, writing a book, starting a group or a club, or writing an article for your school newspaper. Or starting an animal rights blog, perhaps! ;)
You don't even have to be a self-declared "activist" to make a difference in the world. Take whatever you love to do-- whether that's triathlon, composing music, or something else-- and use that to make the world a better place. For example, if you're a triathlete, you can wear a "Vegan" slogan on your sports clothing, so that everyone who watches you compete will become aware that vegans can, indeed, be great athletes! If you compose music, you could write a song about (or dedicated to) the animals who need our help, then play that song at an event or post it online (or even turn it into a music video to put on Youtube!). That way, you're still doing what you love, but you're using it to create very positive change.
The most important thing to do is to do something! And regularly, too-- like I said above, we all have a moral responsibility towards others. You might not be able to do a lot-- after all, you probably have other things going on in your life. (I know I do!) However, doing as much as you reasonably can to make a difference-- whether you can work extensively every day or only do something once a week-- all helps, and remember, the animals and the world do really need our help.
Have a nice (action-filled) week!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What is the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine?

Hello everyone,
Today I'm going to talk about the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, also known as PCRM.
PCRM is an organization of doctors, dieticians, and other health care professionals. The organization promotes a healthy diet as a way to prevent diseases; it advocates for ending the use of animals used in medical research; and it does its own studies on nutrition. It is a big proponent of vegan diets and abolishing animal testing!
I learned about PCRM quite a while ago, but I have renewed interest in it now, since Dr. Neal Barnard, the president of PCRM, was one of the speakers at the Food Revolution Summit. The interview with him was particularly interesting.
Whether or not you are a health care professional, PCRM is a valuable resource for information on nutrition as well as animal experimentation and alternatives. Among MANY other things, they even provide their own Vegetarian Starter Kit which gives tips on following a plant-based diet. (It does NOT advocate for the consumption of eggs and dairy, by the way.) There are lots of posters and brochures that they have up on their website, too.
Their online store has a great selection of books, other literature, DVDs, bumper stickers, T-shirts, and posters. (The Cancer Survivor's Guide can even be downloaded for free!) Here are pictures of some of the book covers you can find (but there are more than just these ones!):
Prisoned Chickens Poisoned EggsBeyond Animal Experiments Audio by Neal Barnard, M.D.Power Foods for the BrainThe Cancer Survivor's Guide21-Day Weight Loss KickstartTurn Off The Fat GenesThe Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook: 125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Jump-Start Weight Loss and Help You Feel Great
Don't Drink Your Milk!
Pleasurable Kingdom
If you sign up for their e-newsletter, you can also opt to receive other news from them as well, such as Breaking News Alerts, Food for Life Recipe of the Week, Information on PCRM's Campaigns and Programs, and more! I've already signed up, and I've been getting informative and useful e-mails in my inbox ever since.


I highly recommend that you check out their website, which can be found at www.pcrm.org.



Here are links to some specific pages on their website:
Have a nice week!
Soon, I'll put up another philosophical post... so stay tuned!
Cat

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Please-- If you haven't already, cut out dairy now!

Dear blog followers,
I recently received an e-mail from Mercy for Animals Canada about Simon the calf. It may be heartbreaking, but please watch the short video to understand why we need to cut out dairy from our diets without delay. Thanks for caring and for taking action. The animals need us.
(The video might not fit into the frame of my blog-- if that is the case, please simply click on the words at the top of the video to see it on Youtube.)




Good guides to going vegan can be found at the following websites:
Vegan Outreach: http://www.veganoutreach.org/guide/
ChooseVeg with Mercy for Animals: http://www.chooseveg.com/
The Vegan Society: http://www.vegansociety.com/try-vegan


Cat

Monday, April 28, 2014

Join the "Thunderclap": Protect Ontario's Pollinators!

As a member of the Ontario Nature Youth Council, I would like to invite those of you who have Facebook, Twitter, and/or Tumblr to join the "Thunderclap" of messages that will be sent to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne calling for restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids (which are a particularly harmful type of pesticide) in Ontario, Canada. Neonicotinoids cause neurological damage to pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. This is one of the factors contributing to the massive deaths of much of the pollinator populations. To learn more, please go directly to the campaign page on the Thunderclap website: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/11177-protect-ontario-s-pollinators.
You can visit Ontario Nature's website here: http://www.ontarionature.org/.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.ontarionature.org/protect/campaigns/pollinators.php
Thanks!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Food Revolution 2014-- Don't Miss It!

Hello dear readers!

There's a free online summit called Food Revolution taking place this week, from April 26 to May 4. The topics discussed include healthy eating, veganism, animal rights, the politics of food, and how our food choices impact the environment. I've already signed up-- I can't wait to listen to some of the broadcasts!
Food Revolution Summit
Image from http://foodrevolutionsummit.org/.
The conference is being held by John and Ocean Robbins, would-be heirs to the Baskin Robbins ice cream chain. John turned down the opportunity to own Baskin Robbins because he didn't want to devote himself to a chain that makes people unhealthy. He is the author of bestsellers Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution. Ocean Robbins, John's son, is the CEO of Food Revolution Network. According to the website, he was also "selected by Time and Audubon as among the heroes of the new millennium."
You can listen in during the broadcasts by phone or online. You can also listen to free replays of the talks online for 24 hours after they occur. After that, if you would like to listen to the broadcasts, you can buy a set of CDs that contain the talks.
So, who's going to be there? Lots of well-known experts and activists, as a matter of fact! Here are a few examples of some of the talks you can listen in on:

  • Jonathan Safran Foer (Author of Eating Animals) – "Renewing Our Humanity"
  • Michael Hansen, PhD – "What Does The GMO Science Tell Us?"
  • Wayne Pacelle (President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States) – "Our Kinship With Animals"
  • Neal Barnard, M.D. (President of The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine) – "Power Foods That Help You Thrive"
  • Brenda Davis, R.D. (Co-author of Becoming Vegan) – "Cutting Edge Nutrition"
  • Amy Goodman (host of Democracy Now!) -- "How to Feed Democracy"
  • T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. (Co-author of The China Study) – "The Science Of Food And Health"
  • Alicia Silverstone – "How To Live A Kind Life"
  • Marion Nestle, Ph.D., M.P.H. – "Standing Up To The Food Industry"
  • John and Ocean Robbins – "Igniting A Food Revolution"
  • ... and more!
Please check out the website to learn more. Thanks, and have a great week!

I know I've posted the link to the website three times already in this post, but here it is again, just in case you missed it: http://foodrevolutionsummit.org/. As you can tell, I'm really excited about this conference! ;)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wite-Out is VEGAN (apparently)

Hello everyone,
Recently I contacted BIC, the creator of the liquid paper Wite-Out, to check if their correction products (including Wite-Out and other correction fluids, correction tapes, correction pens, etc.) are free of animal products and animal testing. Here was their reply:
 
"Thank you for your recent email.
"All BIC correction products do not contain any animal-derived ingredients and the products are not tested on animals.
"Please visit our website for more information on our products at www.bicworld.com.
"Thank you for your inquiry."
 
Please keep in mind that I only asked them about their "correction" products-- I don't know if their regular pens and other things contain animal ingredients. But it certainly is nice to know that Wite-Out is vegan!
Have a nice week! ;)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Maria Daines-- "Rock for the Voiceless"

Happy Monday, everybody!
Today I'd like to introduce you to Maria Daines' music. Maria Daines is a singer and songwriter living in the UK. The songs that she and her guitarist/producer Paul Killington write and perform are all centred around animals and animal welfare/rights. They span a number of genres: rock, country, folk, blues and soul.
You can listen to her music for free on her website: http://www.maria-daines.com/.
Maria Daines and Patch (photo from http://www.puppylovecampaigns.org/support.shtml)
Have a nice day!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The New Movie "Noah" is Animal-Friendly!

Director Darren Aronofsky's new movie "Noah" is coming out in theatres on March 28th, 2014. It's a creative adaptation of the story of Noah's ark from the book of Genesis. You probably already know the story-- two of every animal are taken onto a large boat to be saved from the great flood that God has sent to kill off humanity.
Many movies are filmed using live animals-- and this often has very negative effects for the animals. For example, animals have been harmed in the making of Pirates of the Carribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, The Life of Pi, and the Hobbit, among others. You can read more about this from the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513407/How-Hollywood-animals-repeatedly-harmed-movie-TV-production.html.
Happily, the new movie "Noah" did not use real animals in the filming of the movie at all! All of the animals are computer animations. Not only this, but the storyline of the movie also has a large focus on the importance of caring for animals and the environment. The director, Darren Aronofsky, has even advocated for animal rights in the past, according to Joan Reddi on Ecorazzi.
Here's the trailer:


I'm definitely going to go see it-- are you? ;)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Taking Action for Animals 2014!

Hello everyone,

On June 27-30, 2014, the Humane Society of the United States will be hosting its Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference in Washington, D.C. The conference is geared towards animal advocates of all stripes-- from "seasoned advocates to newcomers TAFA has something for everyone." It would be a great opportunity to learn new things, be inspired, network with others, and learn new advocacy skills! The conference homepage is at https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/default.aspx?EventID=1297443. Please check it out!
Image from https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/default.aspx?EventID=1297443.

At the conference, there will be workshops, speakers, an exhibit hall, a movie screening, and even an opportunity to meet U.S. lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Monday "Lobby Day"! The full schedule can be seen here: http://takingactionforanimals2014.sched.org/.

It costs only $65.00 (not including accommodations or optional Friday workshops) to attend. For all the details on pricing, please see their "Registration Rates" page: https://classic.regonline.com/custImages/300000/301954/TAFA%202014%20Images/2014TAFARegistrationRates.pdf.

Now, many of you fellow animal-rights people might be thinking, "Hmph! They're probably going to serve lots of meat and spend a lot of time ranting on about "humane" animal farming, etc." That's kind of what I assumed at first, too. But no!-- all the food served by the HSUS will be vegan, and the restaurant at the hotel where the conference takes place will make sure to provide vegan options for the length of the conference. From what I can see on the website, the conference doesn't seem to "take sides" with either animal welfare or animal rights-- it simply is a place where animal advocates can meet up, learn, and make a difference.

If you can make it, it would be a great way to renew your focus on helping animals!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Health Charities That Do and Don't Test on Animals

With Spring just around the corner, many people are registering for upcoming charity running races and starting to train for these events. If that's you, great-- but please, before signing up for an event, consider where the money is going and how it will be used.
There are still many health charities that test on animals as part of their research. These experiments include sensory deprivation, physically hurting the animals, and separating infants from their mothers, among other cruel practices. Not only that, but animal testing doesn't give scientists a good sense of how the human body works anyway, since humans and animals have different body chemistry and physiology. If you were to fundraise for or donate to a health charity that funds tests on animals, you may think that you'd be helping your cause, but in fact, you'd be supporting cruelty to animals and bad science.

Happily, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has set up a Humane Charity Seal of Approval website, which notes which health charities do and don't fund tests on animals. With so many charities listed, you should be able to find charities for each major health condition that are humane-approved. Here are some examples of charities listed on the website:

Charities that DO fund animal testing, according to PCRM:
  • The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
  • The American Cancer Society
  • The Alzeimer's Society of Canada
  • and a great deal more...
Charities that DON'T fund animal testing:
  • The Breast Cancer Society
  • Canadian Red Cross
  • The Leukaemia CARE Society (in the UK)
  • and many more!
For the complete list, please go to http://www.humaneseal.org/search.cfm?ap=y.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Animal Rights in Quebec-- Sign the Manifesto!

The Montreal SPCA is calling for the Quebec government to alter its civil code so that animals are no longer defined as "property". According to the website www.AnimalsAreNotObjects.ca,

"Like most people, we believe that animals are not toasters. This view, however, is not shared by our Civil Code. From a legal standpoint, a dog or a cow is no different than a toaster or a chair: all are considered moveable property. Quebec law thus assimilates the act of hurting or abusing an animal to the destruction of property. ... In 2014, it has become urgent to break free from the Civil Code’s categories and to grant animals a legal status that is distinct from that of moveable property, and that takes into account their capacity to feel pleasure and pain – to grant them, in short, the status of sentient being."

You can read more about the issue of animals being legally considered as "property" here: http://animalsarenotobjects.ca/about/, and you can also sign the manifesto on their website. Oh, and if you want to be inspired, just look at the long list of names of people who have already signed it-- teachers, journalists, lawyers, television hosts, scientists, and more: http://animalsarenotobjects.ca/signatures_en/.
You don't have to be a Quebec resident to sign the petition-- I don't live in Quebec, and I've signed it! (For those of you who live outside of Canada, Quebec is a Canadian province.) The signatories come from both Canada and other countries.
Together, we can change the world for the better for the animals. :)

File:2008-06-26 White German Shepherd Dog Posing 2.jpg
Photo found on http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2008-06-26_White_German_Shepherd_Dog_Posing_2.jpg by  Ildar Sagdejev

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Ethics of Wearing Fur, Leather, Fake-Fur, and Fake Leather

Is it okay to wear an old fur coat (or leather jacket) if nobody else wants it anymore?
What should you do if your workplace demands that you wear leather boots or some other animal-derived "clothing"?
And is it really okay to wear fake fur, when fake fur is made to look like the coats of dead animals?

These are the questions I'm going to be discussing in today's post! Here are some scenarios in which you might be forced to question your ideas about animal rights and veganism:
  1. You have an old leather jacket at the back of your closet that you bought before you became aware of animal issues. You still like to wear it, but you're worried that you'll be labelled as a hypocrite if you're seen in public with it. What do you do?
    My response: Technically, you're not killing any animals by wearing your old leather jacket. The cow whose skin the jacket is made of has already deceased. I can't see why you'd want to wear it, though-- is it truly "cool" to wear the skin of another dead creature? By wearing this jacket, you're promoting the "fashion" of leather jackets and making the sight of leather jackets a more common thing for people, making them more likely to want to buy their own. You could also be branding yourself as a hypocrite to anyone who knows that you care about animals.
    Out of disgust at the jacket and concern that other people might misunderstand or even follow my example, I would avoid wearing the leather jacket altogether. In fact, I'd probably donate it to a thrift store so that it can at least be used by someone in need. (It would seem a shame to waste it...)
  2. Your workplace requires you to wear a uniform, but that uniform is partially made from fur/leather/down/wool, etc. (such as leather boots, wool hats, or down coats)! What do you do?
    My response: Personally, I would evaluate a situation like this on a case-by-case basis. Let's say you were working as a pilot, and your employer gave you the uniform. You then noticed that the uniform included leather boots. In a situation like this, it would make little sense to quit your job simply because you don't want to wear leather boots, of course. However, you could still try to talk to your employer about why you would rather wear non-animal-derived boots, instead. There's no harm in at least trying to work things out! If you had a job that required you to wear some animal-derived clothing that you found simply unacceptable and the employer refused to budge, then you would have to evaluate your options from there. But ethical veganism isn't about avoiding every little trace of dead animals everywhere you go-- it's more about following the diet and reducing your negative impact while increasing the positive impact you have on the world.
  3. You're coat-shopping, and the only jacket in the colour you like has a fake-fur hood. Do you buy it or go shopping somewhere else?
    My response: I don't approve of fake fur. It isn't made of parts of animals, of course, but it certainly is made to look like it! Why glamorize something that's cruel?
Say No to fox fur - animal-rights Photo
Picture courtesy of http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/animal-rights/images/10464521/title/no-fox-fur-photo
If you would like to know more about the fur industry, please go to http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_cruelty/fur.htm (WARNING: graphic pictures of animal cruelty).

Let me know in the comments section what you would do in these three situations!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Hello everyone!
A while ago, I did a brief post recommending that you all check out OhSheGlows.com, a vegan recipe blog by Angela Liddon. Recently, Angela has prepared a cookbook-- called The Oh She Glows Cookbook-- featuring some of her best recipes, and it'll come out on March 4, 2014!

Canadian version of the cover of the book. Image from www.ohsheglows.com
American version of the book cover! Image from www.bookdepository.com
According to her website,
"The Oh She Glows Cookbook features a treasure trove of more than 100 mouth-watering, wholesome recipes—from revamped classics that even meat-eaters will love, to fresh and inventive dishes –all packed with flavor. From rich and hearty entrĂ©es like the Crowd Pleasing Tex Mex Casserole and 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta to decadent desserts like the Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte with Hazelnut Crust and Angela’s famous Glo Bakery Glo Bars, there is something for everyone. Featuring over 100 full-colour photographs shot by Angela herself, there is mouth-watering inspiration throughout!
This cookbook also includes many allergy-friendly recipes–with over 90 gluten-free recipes–and many recipes free of soy, nuts, sugar, and grains too!
Whether you are a vegan, “vegan-curious”, or you simply want to eat delicious food that just happens to be healthy too, this cookbook is a must-have for anyone who longs to eat well, feel great, and simply glow!"

OhSheGlows.com is a great website (despite the blog name, you don't have to be a "she" to love the recipes, of course).
If you'd like to pre-order or buy her book, please head on over to http://ohsheglows.com/the-book/. Or, to simply see many of her recipes for free, you can go to www.OhSheGlows.com.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Veganism and Calcium

Dear Cat,
I am SO confused about the whole Calcium absorption "thing"!
I always thought that one got a lot of calcium from dairy products, and not so much from vegetables, fruit, beans etc.  However, I've read more recently that you do absorb calcium from veg etc., and I've even read that you don't actually absorb a lot of calcium from dairy products.  I am quite confused, and I'm wondering if you have knowledge in this area!  Do vegans have a main source of calcium?  I seem to remember that kale has calcium, but do we actually absorb much of it?  (I do love kale!)
Thanks,
Sincerely, but confusedly,
A.M.

Dear A.M.,
Thank you for your e-mail!
According to Brenda Davis, R.D., and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D., in their book Becoming Vegan, dairy is acidifying to the body. When you ingest dairy products, your body will try to compensate for this increased acidity by drawing calcium from your bones (because calcium is alkaline) in order to protect your blood pH from changing (the pH of your blood has to stay about the same at all times). Therefore, even though dairy products do contain a lot of calcium, it is essentially useless for your body, because the dairy products themselves require a large amount of calcium just for you to digest them. The same goes for meat-- actually, meat has an even more acidifying effect than dairy does. Protein powders also have been shown to draw calcium from the bones. As a matter of fact, protein in general is supposedly acidifying-- and when you consider that most Americans and Western Europeans consume one-and-a-half to two times the daily recommended amount of protein (according to WebMD.com), it becomes clear why osteoporosis is a major concern in these countries.
Some vegan health experts claim that excess protein does not contribute to osteoporosis. Regardless of whose theory is correct, however, there is still compelling evidence that people who consume dairy products have higher rates of osteoporosis:
Dr. T. Colin Cambell says: "Americans consume more cow's milk and its products per person than most populations in the world. So Americans should have wonderfully strong bones, right? Unfortunately not. A recent study showed that American women aged fifty and older have one of the highest rates of hip fractures in the world. The only countries with higher rates are in Europe and in the South Pacific (Australia and New Zealand) where they consume even more milk than the United States."
Source: The China Study, 204 (quote sourced from http://www.vegparadise.com/calcium.html)

Rich sources of calcium for vegans include calcium-fortified soy milk and juice, calcium-set tofu, soybeans and soynuts, black beans, bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens, okra, and blackstrap molasses. Note that spinach, beet greens, and Swiss Chard did not make it onto this list, since they are high in compounds called oxalates, which inhibit calcium absorption. These are still healthy foods, of course, but they can't be relied on to provide a significant source of calcium throughout the day.
According to a website called Ellen's Kitchen,  "A recent study compared the absorption of calcium from kale with the absorption from milk revealing absorption of calcium from kale was 40.9%, compared with 32.1% from milk." It appears that kale does have a good absorption level, after all.
Jack Norris, R.D., writes on his website VeganHealth.org that:
  • Studies have shown that calcium in fortified soymilk, bok choy, kale, and mustard greens is absorbed well.
  • Based on oxalate levels, the calcium in turnip greens, watercress, and broccoli should also be absorbed well.
  • Based on oxalate levels, the calcium in collards should be absorbed moderately well.
  • Studies have shown that the calcium in spinach and rhubarb is not absorbed well.
  • Based on oxalate levels, the calcium in beet greens and swiss chard should not be absorbed well. (Source: http://veganhealth.org/articles/bones#caabsor)

  • Infographic derived from MindBodyGreen.com
    Kale is yummy! Oh She Glow's famous Green Monster Smoothie is delicious when made with kale or spinach. You can find the recipe for the Classic Green Monster here: http://ohsheglows.com/2011/01/13/classic-green-monster/. In my opinion, however, the most delicious way to eat kale is in the form of raw vegan kale chips-- in particular, Raw Mountain's Fresh Bruschetta kale chips, which can be purchased online or bought from health food stores in Ottawa (I'm not sure how many stores stock them, although I know that Rainbow Foods on Richmond Road does).
    Books such as Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina or Becoming Raw by the same authors can provide more detailed information on how much calcium is contained in each food. In general, however, consuming either fortified non-dairy beverages OR lots of dark green leafy vegetables (such as kale) can help make sure that you're getting sufficient calcium (but it might be useful to count up how much calcium you're getting over the course of a few days, just to make sure!).
    Thanks again for your question! I'm happy to answer people's questions about veganism or animal rights. I have done a lot of research on these topics over the years, and, of course, I have personal experience with veganism, too. Any of my blog readers can simply send me an e-mail at rabbit-cat[at]vegemail[dot]com and ask away!

    Cat

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

    Fish are Animals, Too!

    For some reason, some people think that you can still consider yourself a vegan if you eat fish. Considering that fish are animals, and vegans abstain from consuming all animal products, this is inherently nonsensical. But beyond that, there are other reasons why we should avoid eating fish.

    People who are otherwise vegan/vegetarian but still eat fish may do so for a number of reasons:
    1. They think that fish is a "healthy" necessity that must be eaten for good health.
    2. They went veg*n to reduce cholesterol levels, lose weight, or otherwise improve their health, and, since fish is considered by many to be a good "diet" food, they see no point in avoiding it.
    3. They care about animals, but they don't consider fish to be animals or sentient beings.
    4. They want to be vegan, but they also want to "pamper" themselves by eating a "cheat food" now and then.
    5. They've never thought about it too deeply, or they try not to think about it.
    Let's de-bunk each of these myths in turn! (Sources are listed at the bottom of this blog post.)
    1. Do we need to eat fish to be healthy?
      When fish is touted as a health food, this is often because of its omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to consume for good health; however, you don't need to eat fish to get omega-3s through your diet. Some extremely good vegan sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. It can also be found in soy, mustard seeds, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, grains, and spirulina. If you are still concerned about getting enough omega-3s, you can also take a vegan DHA/EPA supplement, derived from algae.
    2. Is there anything wrong with eating fish, from a health standpoint?
      According to Dr. Michael Greger, M.D., "All fish contain small amounts of methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury, and fish consumption represents the main source." In his video "Fish Consumption Associated With Brain Shrinkage", he goes on to discuss the frightening effect that relatively low levels of mercury in the body can have on brain development. Here's the video below:
    3. Are fish sentient?
      Why wouldn't they be? I think people are able to dissociate their emotions from fish because fish are so different from us, whereas sheep, pigs, and chickens are more relatable. Still, that doesn't mean that fish aren't sentient beings. Researchers on fish behaviour have shown that fish do display complex personalities and social structure, are intelligent, and are capable of feeling pain.
    4. Is it okay to "cheat" on a vegetarian or vegan diet now and again?
      There's no "vegan police" that is going to come and arrest you for eating fish. However, please remember that "cheating" by eating sentient beings causes more animal suffering and death, and it is also simply morally inconsistent. Not only that, but by allowing yourself to eat one animal product, you're more likely to backslide and cave into your cravings for more.
    5. Should we think about these issues even if it causes us discomfort to face them?
      Yes! Our world (including the animals and humans of the world) is in crisis. If we all hide our heads in the sand and do nothing, we will pay for the consequences (such as environmental degradation, poverty, and cruelty) later. It takes courage to face the truth, but it is crucial that we change our behaviours to help animals, humans, and the environment, even if that means stepping outside our comfort zone.
    If you haven't gone vegan yet, please begin to make the transition to a vegan lifestyle as soon as possible. You can learn more about going vegan at http://www.vegansociety.com/become-vegan/ and www.chooseveg.com.
    Have a nice week!

    Sources:
    Omega-3 fatty acids:
    http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/nutrition/essential-fatty-acids.aspx
    http://www.theveganrd.com/2012/01/omega-3-fats-in-vegan-diets-a-quick-primer.html
    "Fish Intake Associated with Brain Shrinkage": http://nutritionfacts.org/video/fish-consumption-associated-with-brain-shrinkage/
    "Fish Feel Pain": http://www.mercyforanimals.org/fish/fish-feel-pain.aspx
    "Do Fish Have Personalities?": http://www.americanscientist.org/science/pub/do-fish-have-personalities
    Fish Intelligence: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/fish/hidden-lives-fish/

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    Animal-Friendly Alternatives for Common Expressions

    "There are many ways to skin a cat." "Kill two birds with one stone." Expressions like these can potentially cause humans to be more violent towards animals because speaking about our fellow creatures in this way desensitizes people to the idea of hurting animals. Why not use animal-friendly alternatives, instead? Slowly, we can work to change the English language to make it reflect society's changing values towards compassion and justice.
    Here are some common phrases, along with my suggestions for alternatives:
    1. "Kill two birds with one stone."
      I like the way NCVA board member Erin changed this expression to “feeding two birds with one scone” in this blog post. However, there is the fact that scones are junk food for birds. In The Vegan's Daily Companion, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau suggests using the phrase, "Cut two carrots with one knife". I think it would make the most sense to use the expression, "Feed two birds from one hand". There are plenty of variations to come up with, though.
    2. "There are many ways to skin a cat."
      Instead of using such a horrid expression, why not settle for something sweeter, such as "There are many ways to eat a kiwi" or "There are many ways to climb a tree"? I found on one website someone even replaced "cat" in this expression with "eggplant"!
    3.  "Human guinea pig".
      This, of course, refers to a human experimental test subject. However, there is really no need to use the word "guinea pig" in this expression at all! After all, we're trying to move away from using guinea pigs as test subjects. It would make sense to simply use the term "human experimental test subject" instead, or, if you want to sound humorous, you could say, "human science experiment".
    4. "Sweating like a pig!"
      This expression doesn't even make sense, because pigs apparently only have a few sweat glands that they hardly use anyway. This expression comes from iron smelting. Still, since it's likely to confuse people into thinking that pigs are big on sweating, we should probably stop using this expression and instead opt for "sweating buckets" or "sweating a lot".
    5. "Go the whole hog."
      This could be replaced with "Do the whole task", or even "Go the whole watermelon" (if you're really hungry!).

    If anyone reading this has any more suggestions for replacements for common phrases, please feel free to comment below and share your ideas!
    Have a nice week!

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    Have A Heart-- Adopt Damon the Cat!

    Hello everyone,
    If you want to bring a sociable cat into your home and help out a kitty in need (and you are in Ottawa ON or the surrounding area), please consider adopting Damon! His adoption advertisement page can be found at: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15435633/Damon/Damon.html.

    Damon is a cat who was foster-cared for by Erin from the National Capital Vegetarian Association-- but now the Ottawa Humane Society has put him in a cage in PetValu on Greenbank Road :(
    As Erin points out in her blog post on the NCVA website, by responding to the plea of a fellow activist to adopt an animal (or simply get the word out that this animal is adoptable),
    "You’re helping the animal. Just one in the sea of desperate creatures you probably see in your facebook feed each day, but he or she is as deserving of a break as anyone.
    ...You’re helping ease the pain of a fellow activist. As some of you may know first hand (and as I know from studying animal activists from a sociological perspective), being an animal activist in a world that treats them as chattel can be emotionally draining if not downright debilitating.
    ...In addition to relieving the activist’s short-term pain, you are giving her hope. Hope that there are others out there that feel as she does. Hope that when she reaches out for help on behalf on her non-animal brethren, someone will heed the call. In other words, you help her remain an animal activist. And that helps the animal protection movement flourish."

    
    Damon outside with a harness and leash
    Photo of Damon. Photo Courtesy of https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15435633/Damon/Damon.html
    Erin is right. Even though we aren't able to save every single animal we hear about, helping out just one does make a difference in that animal's life.
    So please consider adopting Damon, or at least letting others know that he is adoptable.
    Have a nice day!