Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween E-Cards (Animal rights/Effaism)

Effanow.com came up with a great collection of e-cards called "Truly scary Halloween cards", dedicated to raising consciousness about the (as the name implies) truly scary ways in which many animals around the world suffer.

There are a total of 9 e-cards. Get them, send them, post them, and help raise consciousness about animal suffering. Here's one of my favorites from the collection:

Friday, October 19, 2012

I used to be a vegetarian

Back in September, I met a couple of people who "used to be a vegetarian", but no longer were. Generally speaking, there are many reasons someone becomes vegetarian/vegan, and many reasons one stops being one. I would argue that any vegetarian/vegan who goes back to eating meat never fully connected to a true and deep-seated empathy for other animals. People who become meat-free because it's fashionable, to impress someone, or for other similar reasons, obviously often fall out of the lifestyle as quickly as they fell into it. Even those who become a vegetarian/vegan for health or environmental reasons (both very valid concerns) risk being knocked off their path if their foundation is not strong enough. They might read a new report on the "health benefits of eating meat", or buy into the idea that sticking to free-range products is "good enough", etc.

People who have achieved a deeper level of empathy do not get knocked off their path. A true realization of the unfairness of our current treatment of other animals and the resulting empathy this generates in us are not temporary phenomena. They last a lifetime. Furthermore, they produce an incredibly strong, almost unshakable conviction, one that bypasses temporary trends. This conviction is unwavering. For people who feel this true, permanent empathy, questions such as "are you still vegetarian/vegan?" seem as ridiculous as asking if their heart is still beating, or if their brain is still working. The compassion we feel flows through our blood. We are part of it and it is part of us. Much like enlightenment, this phenomenon is hard to explain to people who have not attained it. What is important is that we try to take steps to attain this level of empathy, even small ones, and even if it seems "unreal" or unconvincing at first. Why? Because compassion is progress, and a truly compassionate way of life leads to a better, fairer world for all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Anita's Animals - A no-kill sanctuary for abandoned animals in San Juan Cosala, Mexico

When I lived in Mexico in 2008-2009, I had the privilege of meeting one of the kindest, most selfless people that I've ever known - Anita Strehlow, founder of the no-kill sanctuary she calls "Anita's Animals". Born in Germany, Anita has been helping the animals of the Lake Chapala region in the Mexican state of Jalisco for over 20 years. She takes in all abandoned animals, nursed them back to health if they're sick, pays for spaying/neutering them, and tries to find good homes for them whenever possible.

Anita receives no funding from the local government, and relies entirely on private donations. Recently, with the escalation of violence in Mexico, many of the foreign residents, many of whom supported her while they were living in the area, have moved back north. Although Anita accepts money via Paypal, many of these people seem to have opted for an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to her refuge.

After visiting her recently while I was in Mexico, I created an Indiegogo page to raise money for Anita. If you're looking for a good way to help animals, I can vouch for the fact that this is one of them. Any money you give will help Anita continue doing the good work that she does in a region where refuges such as hers are almost non-existent.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Why it’s important to act instead of complaining

I was talking to a woman yesterday about some stray cats in our neighborhood and she mentioned that she had seen someone trying to poison them. I asked her if she had called the police, to which she replied that she had not. “They don’t care about things like that”, she said.

On one level, I completely understand her. The police in many countries, including this one, have often proved themselves less than stellar defenders of animals. Yes, there is a growing consciousness out there about the plight of animals, and the need to protect them against abuse and mistreatment, and new animal protection laws are being created. These laws, however, are often not enforced, since the police are seldom as advanced in their compassion as the lawmakers who created the laws. One way to remedy this is by making sure that the people who create these laws follow up on them, ensuring that the people who later enforce them are briefed on their importance. They shouldn’t just be created and then forgotten.

The most important thing to remember here is that a better society, one in which animal protection laws are both created and properly implemented, starts with us. As always, we can either accept the injustices around us, or take concrete steps to change them. The woman who I mentioned above is obviously a kind person, one who cares about animals. Still, I can’t help but think that she could benefit these animals a lot more if she would take even the tiniest step to try to change the way the police treat these types of cases, instead of just complaining about this. Whether we’re talking about the government, legislators, the police force, etc., things only change when people get vocal and get active about the injustices that bother them. Every voice counts, and the more voices speak up, the more likely they will be heard. If this woman, and 20 individuals like her, for instance, call the local police station and voice their concern over people poisoning animals, there is a better chance that this injustice will register on the police’s radar as something that has to be dealt with. If not, the police might not be aware of this, or, as is often the case, not aware of how important it is to people. This type of ignorance should be challenged, not smugly frowned upon. This is especially important when dealing with animal protection issues, as there is a lot more ignorance (and lack of interest) in these types of matters than with matters where people or physical property are concerned.

Whenever we feel helpless, we should remember that everyone who has undertaken a seemingly impossible task has felt the same. History is full of such cases, many of which have made the impossible possible. There were times when people thought that children would never stop working in factories, where women would never vote, where slavery would never end, where violence would never dissipate, where animals would never get laws of any kind. All of these presuppositions have been proven wrong, but not because people quietly complained about how unfair the world was, but because they didn’t give up and took concrete steps to remedy the situation. If it wasn’t for this type of attitude, nothing would have changed.

The longer we let things stagnate, the more stagnant they will become. If we see an injustice, we should report it – to the police, to our local government, to our representatives, to animal protection societies. If we live in a society where these channels are ineffective, we should get together with other like-minded individuals and try to change the channels. This is the path to progress. As conscious individuals, we should assume an active role in showing people a better way to interact with other animals, one based on empathy and respect. It’s up to us to be vigilant, and to try to incorporate the fair treatment of other animals into our society.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Johnny Cash on the Planet of the Apes

... in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada - quite possibly the least flattering rendition of Johnny ever.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A vegetarian Thanksgiving

Tofurkey with non-meat gravy and stuffing, yams, potatoes, mushrooms, fried carrots and cauliflower, cranberry sauce, etc, etc, etc, etc,...

On this day of giving thanks, one of the things I'm most thankful for is the fact that my mom and I can share and enjoy a cruelty-free Thanksgiving dinner.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Why it’s silly to argue over the taste of meat substitutes

Last month I wrote an entry about meat substitutes, and why there is nothing wrong with consuming them. Today I’d like to look at another issue that’s often discussed regarding these products – their taste.

I’ve heard many times that veggie hot dogs and hamburgers taste nothing like the real thing, and that, generally speaking, their taste is inferior to that of real meat products. While a carnivore may (or may not) complain about the taste of a veggie hamburger or hot dog, I, for example, would pick the taste of a veggie-burger any day over that of a real burger. Part of me wants to convince carnivores that this is because there are more and more veggie-based meat substitutes that do taste fantastic. These days, these products are not only bought by vegetarians and vegans, but by an increasing number of meat eaters. I’ve had many veggie burgers in many restaurants around the world and most of them have been very tasty.

Still, I feel a little torn making this argument. While I don’t want to sound like I’m agreeing that meat substitutes taste "worse" (I think I’ve made it pretty clear that this is not the case), I also feel the need to remind people that taste is not the key element here. When all’s said and done, this shouldn’t be a taste contest. To put it bluntly, real burgers are made from the flesh of murdered animals, while meat substitutes are not. Real burgers are a product of the meat industry, which is responsible for killing millions of innocent animals daily, while meat substitutes are not. Avoiding meat represents progress for humanity, while eating it does not. Ultimately, these are much more important considerations than taste. True progress comes when we realize that the unmistakable taste of dead flesh actually represents an immense amount of animal suffering, and is therefore best left behind. What's more, any person who really cares about animals will gladly sacrifice even more taste than he or she has to in order to progress to a more ethical life. This is the right approach, and the reason why, ultimately, it is pointless to argue about the taste of meat substitutes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

mexico 2012 (part 2)









Lo de Marcos, Nayarit:

Lo de Marcos, Nayarit:

Monday, October 1, 2012

mexico 2012 (part 1)

Mexico City:

Estado de Mexico: