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,

(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!

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