Is kindness catching on?

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Last weekend was Buddha’s Birthday Festival in Brisbane, this is a celebration of all things related to Buddhism…there were many different Buddhas, cultural displays, dance performances, lanterns, food, plants, wishes, dragons…you name it, it was probably there.  Except for one thing…a distinct lack of meat…not that I was expecting there to be any at a Buddhist festival, but still, there was a whole food market devoted to kind, compassionate living – what an incredible way to educate thousands and thousands of people (and their palates!).

I was in food heaven, there were stalls and stalls of vegetarian food and I think it was one of the first times that I’ve been anywhere and had so many choices.  There were dishes that included the obligatory fake ‘meats’ but I think these were actually one of the best ways to show people that they’re not ‘missing out’ on anything by not having meat.  Then there were the dishes that were based on tofu – yum! Then the dishes that did not pretend to be anything other than a lovely vegetarian treat.  What a wonderful place for a vegan to be, what a wonderful place for anyone to be.  Sure, some foods were vegetarian and I still had to check ingredients, but that didn’t stop me…it was A-MAZING.

Oh, and another interesting discovery I made on my way home…New Zealand Natural Ice-cream has a few vegan options too.

Maybe things are starting to change…maybe this kindness and compassion thing is catching on…hope so!

Namastè

Is that what friends are for?

I have a question…why do people who are not vegan have to go out of their way to start conversations about the treatment of animals?  Perhaps it’s guilt and they just want to try to justify doing what they know is inherently wrong.  Perhaps they are in denial or they simply don’t want to see the truth because it would mean that they would have to change something in their comfortable lives and that would be really inconvenient…gosh, poor them.

I was having lunch with some friends today.  Friends who I consider to be well educated and worldly wise, well-travelled, well-versed in current affairs and who I thought were mature and sensitive.  I was wrong.

I’m used to people ordering meat when I eat out with them and I’m used to them apologising to me for it (like it’s me they need to apologise to), these friends are no different.  I never comment, I never tell them what to order (or what not to order), I try to be neutral and just do my own thing and mind my own business and let them do their thing.  I go out to have a good time, not to argue, I think there’s generally a time and a place to air your views – and I don’t see the point in starting arguments with your friends (especially when you already know each other’s beliefs). I also don’t see the point in deliberately choosing a topic that you know someone in the group has such strong feelings about and then everyone else at the table ganging up on them…

So, I was left quite shocked (and questioning who these people are that I call friends), when at lunch today one of them informed me that after watching a segment about dairy cows on a TV show, that the cows live happy, healthy little lives with their friends.  Yes, I was gobsmacked (and not just by the acknowledgement that cows have a social structure and can have friends).  I tried to remain calm and I pointed out that dairy cows do not in fact live happy, healthly lives with their friends.  I pointed out that their babies are constantly taken away from them and perhaps having friends was at least of some comfort.  The response I got was – “well, those little calves end up as veal on my plate, yum” – yes, not the response I expected from a well-educated (and frankly old enough to know better) ‘friend’.  I tried to inform this friend of some of the facts of the dairy industry, but apparently the information she saw on the tv segment (on an agricultural show – not biassed at all) was all she needed to know and all she would believe.

The conversation then went on to greyhounds (and here the comments were along the lines of “how can you possibly just end a whole industry” and “well, that’s what the dogs are bred for, they attack things in the wild, so it’s natural behaviour”, this, in response to the live baiting investigations that have been going on and used to support “that greyhounds are vicious and that’s just what they do”…hmm.

Horse-racing was next and the topic there was how “well” the horses are treated and what “good” lives they lead with the “best” of everything. Honestly, the ignorance at that table was palpable.

Shortly after the conversation, I left. I didn’t want to cause a scene, I wanted to calmly shed light on the real issues at play and put an end to some of the ridiculous stories that people are talking themselves into.  I did my best to defend the animals and when the conversation was over, I got the hell out of there.

I’m now left wondering why my ‘friends’ would bring up the topic, knowing that it would upset me.  I’m also left wondering why I always avoid the topic because I know that we all have different views and I don’t want to cause an argument.  If they can bring it up, why do I feel the need to keep quiet?

I understand the value in having friends with different interests, different beliefs and from different cultures.  I know that that’s how we learn and grow and how we build an understanding of each other, I don’t expect to agree on everything all the time. I also don’t expect to be attacked by my friends for my beliefs. What I’m left wondering after lunch today is, am I doing the animals a disservice all the time by deliberately avoiding the topic so that I don’t cause arguments…or am I simply friends with the wrong people?

An humane humanity?

http://www.quotesvalley.com/the-greatness-of-humanity-is-not-in-being-human-but-in-being-humane-greatness/
Image from Quotes Valley

Animals play an incredibly significant role in our lives, they live side-by-side with us, they share our joy, they comfort us in sorrow and they show us the meaning of true love.  I find it hard to believe that people can detach from this when they sit down to a meal, put on their clothes, pick up their bags, use cosmetics or watch animals for entertainment or tourism. How is it that people can spend their lives in companionship with one breed of animal, only to endorse the cruelty of others and turn their backs on them?

We invest a lot emotionally in our pets; these days they are more a part of the family than ever before, we celebrate their birthdays, buy them Christmas presents, dress them up, take them on holidays, they sleep in our beds, exercise with us and share in every aspect of our lives.  This is seen as normal, this is seen as natural, as loving and caring…yet, on the other hand some animals are exploited, violently treated and sacrificed for the objects that humans desire or consume.  How can this behaviour be reconciled? How can we love one and think another deserves a life of imprisonment, torture and a terrifying, violent death?
http://www.thenerdyteacher.com/2014/12/dont-forget-their-humanity-edchat.html
Image from The Nerdy Teacher
I wish I knew the answer.  I wish there was some way of getting people to understand, to live compassionately, to think about others, even just to think about the way THEY would like to be treated…there’s a lot to be said for actually walking a mile in someone else’s shoes…or hooves for that matter.
Recently I came across a quote that summed up a sentiment I’ve been thinking about lately.  I can’t remember who the quote was by (and if you know, please mention it in the comments below)…it said something along the lines of…’before you call something humane, first ask if you would want it done to you’.  All of this talk about ‘humane slaughter’, ‘humane meat’, ‘ethical standards’, ‘the animals had a good life’, as far as I’m concerned, is nonsense.  No one would wish a life of suffering and torment on another person, so why do we think innocent animals deserve this treatment?  We should know better.  We should learn from our past mistakes and know that we don’t have a right to take anyone’s life.  All beings simply want happiness and freedom, why can’t we just help each other to achieve this?
http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/animal-rights/images/13295963/title/animal-rights-photo
Image from Fanpop

The least we can do

Favourite Animals
Photo courtesy of Doug (Creative Commons – Flickr)

We live with them, we live amongst them and we share this planet with millions upon millions of them, in fact, we are part of their community…animals.  I wish more people could appreciate the value of non-human animals, their companionship and their insights into how to live a happy life. I wish more people could see the harm we are doing by using animals for our own purposes. I wish more people could see how we betray their trust, how we decimate their families and how we crush and break their precious spirits.

In their natural habitat, when all is well (and humans have not interfered), animals live happy, healthy lives of companionship, family and love. You only need to look at a family of meerkats, a pair of otters holding hands while they bob up and down in the ocean, a pod of dolphins or a band of gorillas to see majestic and beautiful animals going about their business and living their lives. They’ve learnt all about teamwork, survival and family life.

You only need to look at a family walking their dog in the park to see how these beautiful creatures have become part of our families too.  They rely on us, they trust us and they do everything they can to please us.  Why then, do we betray their brothers and sisters by using them as food, clothing and ‘test dummies’?  Why can’t we see their unique nature? Their personalities? Why do we continue to use and abuse them when we clearly know better?  When will we stop this selfish and greedy behaviour?

Becoming vegan is the best way I know to make a difference. Activism, conservation programs, rehabilitation programs and environmental action are all steps we can take from there, but as a baseline, I think veganism is the least we can do.

A Win for the Greyhounds

This week has seen the Australian population receive a long overdue education about some of the harsh realities involved in the greyhound racing industry in this country.  The ABC’s Four Corner’s exposé, ‘Making a Killing’, revealed to the Australian public, the inherent cruelty involved in the ‘blooding’ and ‘live-bait’ training of greyhounds for the racetrack.  In an industry where cruelty is so ingrained, the 45 minute program was only able to highlight one aspect of such atrocious behaviour, however, it has been an education for many greyhound racing supporters and will hopefully lead to further education about the appalling treatment of these beautiful and gentle dogs.

The credit to this investigation lies with Animal Liberation Queensland and Animals Australia who provided disturbing (and all too common) footage to the ABC which showed just how prevalent ‘live-bait’ training is in this industry. Trainers were repeatedly shown using live animals (rabbits, possums, piglets) to taunt the greyhounds and to incite them to attack and chase.  The defenceless animals were tied to a lure and flung at high speed around the racetracks until they were ripped apart by the dogs; these people show no remorse, no compassion, no humanity.  They are cruel, dangerous, barbaric and psychopathic.  Their behaviour is not normal; to laugh and play with animals that have been horrifically injured as a result of their torture is unthinkable, yet these people seem to do so regularly.  There is no thought to the feelings of the animals they use as ‘bait’, there is no compassion to ‘put them out of their misery’, they are used and used until they finally die in a most painful and cruel manner. They are terrified, they are in excruciating pain and in most cases, they are just babies.

piglet

The unbelievable cruelty involved is rife and despite being illegal, it has gone unchecked due to the industry being ‘self-regulated’. It goes to show what happens when money is concerned; all decency and humanity go out the window and people commit the most horrendous acts of violence towards animals, all in the name of making a profit.

There was no time in this program to highlight the treatment of the greyhounds themselves, this would take multiple programs. Hopefully, the Australian public will now educate themselves and take a stand to act against any participation in such an industry.  Numerous large sponsors have withdrawn support and some charges have been laid which is a step in the right direction; now we all need to take action. We need to support the petitions and to let the government know that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.  We must keep up the pressure to end this industry forever.

Sign the petitions, support an end to this industry, show that you care and let’s make our voices heard.

Sign the petition and learn more here: Animals Australia – Greyhound Cruelty Website

A Walk in the Park

I’m feeling a lot of things at the moment; angry, upset, powerless…

This afternoon I was walking my dog in the park when a car came along and the driver had the front window all the way down and his little chihuahua on his lap. The dog was barking at us and getting quite worked up, he made no attempt to stop it and the next thing I knew, the little dog had fallen out of the moving car, rolled over and over all the way across the road and landed at our feet.

I was in shock! I bent down to the dog and it got up and slowly made its way back across the street and hopped into the car – the driver was kind enough to open the door for it, heaven forbid, he actually get out of the car himself to see if his dog was ok.  I was shocked…and furious. I said to him, ‘is it ok? That’s why you need to have dogs tied in, it’s illegal not to have them harnessed, you’re lucky it didn’t break it’s leg or neck’…he just half shrugged at me (I guess he couldn’t talk through the cigarette hanging out of his mouth) and then he looked at me like I was the idiot and drove off.

I was dumbfounded. I somehow managed to get his number plate and report him, but I don’t think there’s much that will be done. I don’t even know if the dog was really ok, a fall like that from a moving car, could easily injure a small dog like that.  I wish I could have thought more clearly and not been overcome by my emotions (and shock), I wish I could have said something that would really have made a difference to that man’s behaviour towards his dog. I feel awful that he’s still out there and that this poor little dog is in his ‘care’.

I imagine that the day will come that all beings are treated with kindness and respect. I hope with all my heart it is sooner rather than later…and in the meantime, I hope the guy gets hit by a bus (not really, but you can understand the sentiment!!).

Cheese to please…

Image from Cruelty Free Shop
Image from Cruelty Free Shop (www.crueltyfreeshop.com.au)

Today I had my first taste of Biocheese, all I can say (between mouthfuls) is, WOW!!

These days there are so many amazing vegan cheeses out there that it’s getting really hard to decide which one (or more) to buy. Vegan cheeses have come such a long way in just the last few years. We should no longer hear the clichéd excuse for not giving up dairy, ‘oh, I couldn’t live without cheese’.

Lately I’ve sampled a few of the Miyoko’s Creamery cheeses and there are some really lovely flavours that are suited to lots of different purposes. They’re a nice soft cheese and the added benefit of being a cultured cheese makes them even healthier.

The Vegusto cheeses are also a really great alternative to the sharper flavoured cheeses and the No-moo Melty in this range is divine on a toasted sandwich.

The Daiya cheeses (and other products) are also incredible and come in a large variety of flavours. It’s really satisfying to get that mozzarella stretch from a dairy free cheese and the flavour of the cheddar is pretty hard to beat.

I’m yet to experiment with the Biocheese, but apparently it’s also stretchy when melted…I’m quite happy just to eat it by the slice at the moment; the flavour is like a cross between Swiss and Haloumi, but even better.

Then there are the alternatives like Cashew Cheese, which can be used as a lovely substitute on nachos for sour cream – and definitely a lot healthier. It’s also great drizzled on a salad or even a dollop on top of some lovely hot soup.

There were a few years there where I just didn’t bother with vegan cheeses, now I could go on and on about them but I think you really just need to try them yourself, everyone has different tastes and these days there’s a vegan cheese to suit them all. Go ahead and enjoy…your tastebuds and the animals will thank you. Spread the word!!