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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Animal Adoption Rocks


You’ve heard a lot about rescue animals, but what are they, really? At the dog park, you’ve probably met more than one friendly face proudly smiling at their pal and proclaiming them a ‘rescue’. The term is endearingly sweet, and very meaningful to the owner, but the implications of the meaning may be very grave and shocking to you.

 You see, for a cat or a dog to be considered a rescue animal, this means that they will have to have been literally rescued from a situation or shelter in which they otherwise would have been subjected to euthanasia. A rescue cat or dog literally owes its life to its owner, and rescuing a pet can create a lifelong bond of love and trust. Some animals are also considered rescues when they are taken from abusive or neglectful homes and rehomed to a responsible pet owner. Whatever the case, a rescue is an animal saved from a horrible fate by a kind-hearted person.

 Just hearing all of that underscores one of the most important reasons there are to adopt or rescue rather than buy a pet: individuals selling the litters of their animals are not only committing an act that is morally ambiguous on its own, but saving an innocent animal from being killed is the obvious and superior choice. Some people may turn up their nose at an animal that doesn’t have a pedigree and is not purely bred, but ask yourself, does a thing like that really matter?

 Our pets are here for us to love and take care of them, period, and whether or not they have papers to prove a pure bloodline have nothing to do with that. Our cats and dogs love us in turn for providing them with safe and loving homes, along with the occasional treat and new toy, and this is what truly matters. You can love a rescue pet just as easily as a pedigreed pet, and they can return your love just as easily, too.

 You may have to prove that you have accommodations necessary for the animal that you’re rescuing, and you may also have to pay a fee. Usually these fees are important contributions that help feed the animals that have yet to be rescued, and keeps these animals from being sheltered in a place that would euthanize if they were not adopted after a certain period of time.

The amount you pay to adopt your rescue pet is worth much less than the life of the animal, of course, and the love and bond you’ll experience with your pet over the years will outshine that paltry dollar sign very quickly.

End the Cruelty

It’s no secret that we all live in times of dire violence and destruction. One need only turn on the evening news to hear atrocious stories of husbands murdering wives, children horrifically abused or neglected, riots in the streets of heavily urbanized areas, and other unfortunate tragedies. It is remarkably easy to allow ourselves to become desensitized to these violent acts; indeed, what seemed horrific ten years ago might seem so very quaint today. Where does all of this come from? How have we, as a people, become so cavalier, so devastatingly accepting of evil acts and deeds perpetrated by our fellow man? Where does all of this end?

When do we finally say, enough is enough is enough?


We teach our children by our silence. Through our lack of outrage, our kids become passively indoctrinated to look the other way and simply be grateful that nothing has happened to them. We’ve turned our backs on one another, in large part, and our world is shrinking as we lose the ability to feel warmth and love and empathy for our neighbors. What about those other children, though? What about those children on the news that are so ‘politely’ tucked away into the corners of our minds? Are they not valuable human beings, too?

Unfortunately, because it is so terrifying and horrific, many are willing to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the shocking issue of human trafficking, even when those humans are small, innocent children. Many have adopted the ‘better them than me’ attitude and ignore the sums and figures, but today, we’re dealing with facts, not fantasies. We’re dealing with the millions of individuals, children of all ages, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds, sold into slavery, sometimes for labor, sometimes for sex, sometimes for other unspeakable practices, who are forgotten every single year. This is the real news, not the latest celebrity antics. The children and adults sold and trafficked every day are valuable for their status as living beings, period, not for the dollar sign attached to their torment.

Of course, we’re desperate to turn a blind eye to the suffering of our most faithful companions. This cognitive dissonance has led to the suffering of incalculable animals all across the globe, and the figure rises to frightening totals with each day that passes. We speak not only of the detestable practices of animal testing, vivisection, and the rampant crimes constantly excused in the meat industry, but the things happening in backyards everywhere – right now.

Look down at the foot of your bed or at the other end of your couch. Look at the windowsill, or anywhere else your beloved cat or dog might be lazily snoozing or licking their paw. Could you imagine refusing them a pet or snuggle when they rub up against your leg or climb into your lap? Could you imagine not filling up the water bowl with fresh, clean water several times a day, or scooping out a heaping portion of food, or making sure your pet has a warm place to sleep at night? Probably not. Could you wrap your head around ever striking your animal? The answer, hopefully, is of course not. This is the sickening reality for an outrageous amount of cats, dogs, and other animals. The injustice could bring the strongest to their knees in sorrow, for what could be more sad than bringing pain to a creature that only wants to love and be loved in return?

It is time that we all stop turning a blind eye to the issues of human trafficking and animal abuse. Part of the reason we have become so violent against one another is because we have institutionalized violence against the innocent and helpless. We are, if nothing else, stewards of the animals and guardians of the children, both relying on us, in their own way, for food, comfort, shelter, etc. When that role is perverted into something different, there is suffering, period. We can no longer stand idly by while the helpless are traded like currency. We can no longer simply ignore the silent cries of the innocent and go about our daily lives as though their pain and hunger do not exist. Quite the contrary, they do exist, and it is our responsibility to help.

We urge you now to take action like never before. The fate of millions rests in our collective hands, and we have the power to make significant change. The first step for many is to merely acknowledge. Acknowledge that girls go missing from their homes at night, kidnapped and transported across borders to serve as cheap labor. Acknowledge that it isn’t okay to ignore the sad animal abuse ads on television simply because they are sad, because that is the point of those advertisements. You shouldn’t simply change the channel to the latest sitcom and numb yourself to reality, and that isn’t something that responsible citizens of this world do. It’s there. It’s real. And it’s not going away just because cable offers numerous ways for you to occupy your mind otherwise.


Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s time to stop these injustices before they spread even further or are used to justify suffering of even more groups. Get concerned. Get active. Spread the word.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fur Farms-Stop the Cruelty


You wake up in a filthy, cramped metal cage, surrounded by dozens of others who are all as confused and scared as you are. You don’t know why you’re there, but others around you keep disappearing. You don’t know where they’re going, but their agonized cries tell you their destination is a place of death and suffering.

One day, someone grabs you from your suffocating prison and takes you against your will. You know you’re about to experience the same horrors as the others who have been taken. The air stinks of blood. You are hung from your feet, and before you can scream in protest, you feel the searing pain of a knife cutting into you…

If this disturbs you, be aware that this is the fate of thousands of animals globally, who are often skinned alive for their fur. Eighty-five percent of the fur industry's skins come from animals on fur factory farms. We must ask ourselves: why are animals subjected to such inhumane treatment, and what can we do to put an end to such cruelty?

While it is true that humans have been wearing animal fur for millennia, what is unprecedented is the severe abuse that animals experience solely for economic and materialistic indulgence. In early human civilization, animal fur was used for sheer survival and necessity, but this is clearly no longer the case today. As human technology has progressed and created a diverse range of clothing options available, there is no reason to wear animal fur other than for conspicuous consumption and monetary gain. In a capitalist and competitive global market, fur farming methods are designed to benefit only the bottom line. In the end, innocent animals pay the ultimate price. The true bottom line is that fur-farming is a shamefully inhumane practice, and it is our responsibility to put an end to this cruelty.

What kinds of animals are killed in fur farms?


According to Born Free USA, more than 36 million animals die on fur farms around the world each year. Thirty-one million (or about 90 percent) of these animals are mink. Foxes account for another 4.5 million, while chinchillas, sable, ferret (usually marketed as “fitch”), coypus (an aquatic mammal also known as “nutria”), and raccoon dogs (not to be confused with the North American raccoon), account for most of the remaining half-million animals. Due to the recent drop in pelt prices for mink and fox, some of U.S. fur farms have attempted to ‘diversify’ by raising bobcat, coyote, raccoon, and beavers, along with coypus and rabbits — all in equally abhorrent conditions.

What happens in fur farms?

When they see the term “farmed fur,” many people conjure images of a lush farm where animals are treated humanely, but the harsh reality is that this couldn't be further from the truth. Although animal rights advocates have done a phenomenal job of raising awareness about the cruelties involved in fur trapping, little attention has been paid to the atrocities that take place on fur farms, sometimes also referred to euphemistically as “fur ranches.” A recent study conducted for the International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies indicated that most respondents objected to trapping animals to make fur products and voiced a preference for furs from fur farms (Born Free USA). It is now time for the public to realize that fur farms are just as cruel as trapping.


Animals in fur farms often spend their entire lives in tiny cages that are stacked on top of each other, with feces and urine falling down through the cages into their food and water. They have nothing to stand on but cold, hard, wire mesh. In many cases, animals must share cages with each other in a single cage that does not allow for full movement. Often times, animals are left with no protection from the elements. As a result, studies have shown that up to 85 percent of these confined animals develop behavioral abnormalities, such as rocking, head-bobbing, self-mutilation, psychosis, and infanticide due to anxiety, boredom, and an inability to live in a way that meets their instinctual needs.

As cruel as life on a fur farm is, the methods of killing used in these factories of death are horrifying to say the least. On U.S. and European fur farms, one of the most frequently used methods of killing animals is electrocution: the “farmer” puts a metal clamp in an animal’s mouth, a metal rod in the anus, and sends a high-voltage current surging through the body. Sometimes the power surge forces the rod out of the anus, so the procedure must be repeated to kill the animal. Other commonly-employed techniques include: homemade gas chambers, such as a box hooked up to a tractor exhaust pipe; lethal injection of various chemicals that kill through paralysis, which can result in immobilized animals being skinned alive; and neck breaking (Born Free USA).


China is the world’s largest fur exporter, and its fur farms have demonstrated some of the most harrowing abuses of animal rights to date. Before they are skinned, humans yank the animals from their cages, throw them to the ground, and bludgeon them. Undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection/EAST International found that many animals are still alive and struggling desperately when workers flip them onto their backs or hang them up by their legs or tails to skin them. Some of the animals' hearts are still beating five to 10 minutes after they are skinned. Due to the absence of regulations, many animal furs (including cat and dog) are advertised as different animals. There are currently no penalties for abusing animals on fur farms in China.

What can we do to stop fur farming?

Fur farming, like any other industry, depends on the basic economic process of supply and demand. Consequently, the best way to stop fur farming is to ensure that you do not buy any fur products – including any products using fur trim – and take extra precaution even when buying faux fur. Because there are very few countries that have regulations or laws against fur farming, we must pressure our governments to end this cruelty for the sake of fashion, economic greed, and status. International laws are diverse in strength, but a few countries have strictly regulated or completely banned fur farms (Austria, the United Kingdom, and Croatia have bans, the Netherlands has a ban on fox and chinchilla farming, and New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland have strict regulations).


No federal laws regulate how the animals on the nearly 400 fur farms in operation in the U.S. are to be housed, cared for, or killed.However, recently, West Hollywood, California became the first city to ban the sale of wearable fur in the form of any article of clothing. Let us follow in their footsteps and put pressure on our government leaders to set a global example. It is clear that no living creature deserves to be treated this way, and if we are to make any strides as a compassionate society, we must abolish fur farming.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tasty Vegan Meals



It’s been contended for years that not only is a vegan diet the most conscious diet one can follow, but many also believe that it is the ‘greenest’ diet. It’s important to remember and note, of course, that veganism is not simply a diet, it’s a lifestyle – and an awesome one, at that!

Vegan cuisine forgoes the use of any animal product, or any product derived from animals whatsoever. This means not only eschewing meat, eggs, and dairy, but foods such as honey. Honey is made by bees, therefore it belongs to the bees! Even without all these foods and food groups that are staple in the standard diet of omnivores, vegan cuisines are variable and delicious!

No matter which city you live in, you’re bound to have a wide variety of vegan or vegan friendly restaurants to choose from to have a lovely meal. All you have to do is a quick Google, ask Siri, or check your local Yelp listings. Once you’ve chosen a place, you can go on a friend date or something more intimate with your sweetie and have a delicious pad Thai with tofu, or a delicious Vietnamese seitan creation.

These foods are not only rich in vegetables and other health foods, but the lack of animal products means that they’re lower in fat, absent in cholesterol, and still piping with wonderful flavors!

Once you’ve tasted of vegan splendors out on the town, you could (and should!) hit up the local health food store to pick up some ingredients for your own vegan feast. Maybe you’ll make it into a dinner party for work associates, or maybe you’ll bring a dish to a family dinner, but either way, you’ll be showing others that meatless, animal friendly meals are still yummy to the tummy!

Finding a recipe to work with is easy. The internet is a wonderful resource with literally thousands of vegan food blogs to peruse. There are bound to be plenty that suit your palate, be it Southern comfort food, Cambodian delights, or even vegan sushi! You can also check with your local food market vendors and ask what their favorite meat free recipes are.

Once you have found your niche in vegan cooking, you can explore whole new venues in the vegan lifestyle. It may be certainly worth considering to eliminate more and more meat from more and more meals. Meatless Monday has been around forever, but why not make all dinners meatless? They are healthful and delicious without animal products!

Once you get ready to step outside your comfort zone of vegan cuisine, the next place to look is a matter of choice. The options are out there, and they are all of them a matter of personal choice and selection! There are dozens of fantastic vegan cooking podcasts available to download for free, for instance, which can give you countless helpful tips in the kitchen, be it how to cook a jicama or how to properly slice your root veggies.

Another option to explore are vegan and vegetarian cooking classes. These classes are often hosted at local community colleges and learning centers, and, for a fee, you can continue to expand your view of vegan cooking. It might be worth it to take a friend along—pay their fee as a small gift and allow them to also experience the joys of vegan cooking.

Tasty, plant based meals come in many shapes and sizes and span the breadth of a world of ethnic cuisines. Vegan burritos are a cheap, fun, quick, and easy meal to whip up after a long day at the office. You can even make them ‘build your own burritos’, and set up containers of chopped veggies, vegan protein sources, and tortillas so you and your family can have fun coming up with your own unique and delectable combinations.