Tag: animal rights

My Pledge to Democracy

At the end of every year, I produce a list of the films my husband and I watched in the previous 12 months. I provide a brief commentary for our Top 10 (or in the case of 2021’s list, our Top 15). 

Instead of overwhelming you with a list of dozens (hundreds?) of films at the end of the year, I thought for 2022, I would build a list throughout the year so you don’t have to wait. This would also give me the space to more thoughtfully review some of the films I think deserve attention — or at least those that captured mine.

As I mentioned in my Films Watched in 2021 post, it’s been a tradition for over a decade for David and I to watch a long-form film or film series over the course of the New Year’s Day holiday, and this year — 2022 — was no exception. We decided to watch The Battle of Chile, a documentary film made in 1973 in three 90-minute parts. 

I knew that the United States had backed a coup in Chile in the 1970s and that a dictatorial regime was installed in place of the democratically elected government and president. And that’s about where my knowledge ended.

Watching this film just days before the 1st anniversary of the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol was both fitting and harrowing. Before January 6, 2021, I was quite aware that our democracy was under attack, and over the years I have written several essays and podcast episodes on the importance of being engaged in political processes and in our precious democracy. (Elections Matter: How to Increase Voting, Inauguration, A Guide to Being Politically EngagedCan Garbage Unite our Divided Country?, Why I Love Voting and Why You Should, Too!, Laws for Animals: How to Engage in Politics without Being Cynical, to name a few.) I even made political engagement the theme of one of my vegan / animal protection conferences.

But on January 6, 2021, I saw — we all saw — how fragile democracy is and how it’s only as strong as its weakest individual, as Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently articulated in her pledge to democracy.

I watched in horror as men and women — provoked by this country’s own president — attacked one of the most fundamental tenets of democracy — the peaceful transfer of power — and persist in lies about election fraud where none had been and none has since been found.

I waited in vain for leaders to abandon such falsehoods once they witnessed police officers, elected officials, and fellow Americans suffer attacks, violence, threats, and even death. 

No such change came, and indeed, the lies have become even more fixed and firm. And our democracy remains in peril.

To be sure, there are differences between the Chilean far right overthrowing their democratically elected government and the divisive state of our country today. First of all, they had a major foreign power backing them (the United States) and a military that acted on its own — independent of the constitutional government.

But there are chilling similarities that every American will recognize in this story and that every American needs to see. We must never forget January 6th, 2021, the five people who were killed, and the dozens who were injured and harmed, and we must resist the temptation to naïvely and complacently believe that such an egregious act could never happen again.

Moreover, as ordinary citizens, we must be vigilant against any duplicitous measures that seek to deny facts, distort truth, and chip away at democratic norms, systems, and laws. 

How?

  • By engaging in the very democracy that has been so hard-won and hard-kept. 
  • By exercising the very rights that so many have fought and died for. 
  • By remembering the demos in democracy: the people
  • And by rejecting cynicism and divisiveness. 

This isn’t someone else’s task. It’s ours. It’s mine. It’s yours.

Vote.

Get involved.

Know your representatives — not just federally but regionally and locally.

Visit your local town or city hall. Or your state or federal Capitol. (That’s David and I on a recent visit to our state Capitol in Sacramento!) 

Financially contribute to candidates you believe in.

Volunteer.

Use your voice.

Know history.

Get up, show up, and speak up.

Meet duplicity with honesty, stupidity with wisdom, ignorance with truth, and cruelty with kindness.

And watch The Battle of Chile

The amount of footage and the breadth and depth of the storytelling are enough to justify the high esteem with which it is still regarded 50 years later. 

Thanksgiving Without the Turkey

Gratitude, community, abundance — these are the values I celebrate when I prepare for Thanksgiving each year. Not turkey.

Please listen to this NPR / KQED Radio editorial about how to enjoy the true meaning of this holiday without hurting anyone. Listen here or below.

A Simple Reminder Makes a Huge Difference

There are SO many ways we can get involved to make sure the issues we care about — human rights, animal protection, and environmental protection — are represented in our local, state, and federal governments.⁠⠀
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One of them is by voting. ⁠⠀
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Yes, we need election reform to make sure everyone who is eligible CAN vote. Period. Full stop. ⁠⠀
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But we also need to vote … and make sure everyone who is eligible WILL vote. Because when people vote, the majority of them vote for the things we all care about — human rights, animal protection, and environmental protection.⁠⠀
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? Watch this short video about an organization I volunteer with to see if you want to get involved as well. It’s so simple, and it just takes a little time, a few words, and a stamp.
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DON’T DO NOTHING BECAUSE YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING. DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. ⁠⠀

Elections Matter: How to Help Increase Voting

Spread the Vote is an organization dedicated to helping people get IDs ahead of Election Day. IDs are necessary to participate in lots of areas of society, such as getting employment, opening a bank account, or finding housing. Additionally, voter ID laws in particular disproportionately affect communities of color, the elderly, and new voters. Spread the Vote helps people to navigate their state’s ID laws and assists with everything from application fees to driving you to the DMV to get your ID. You can join a local chapter (or start one!), and donate at their website.

VoteRiders.org In addition to people who lack acceptable ID to vote, confusion and intimidation serve to prevent millions more eligible voters from voting, even if they have a valid ID in their state. Their Voter ID Helpline (844-33-VTRID) receives as many calls from people in non-voter ID states as from those in states that require or request ID at the polls! Even poll workers are confused and sometimes ask voters for ID when none is required. In addition to providing information about voter ID requirements for every voter in every state, they also partner with local organizations to find, inform and help voters with voter ID, especially those most at risk of losing their right to vote. Get involved today.

When We All Vote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American. 

VoteForward.org, an organization I actively volunteer with, empowers grassroots volunteers to help register voters from under-represented demographics and encourage them to vote. It’s so simple and proven to be effective. With just a printer and some stamps, you send a letter to registered voters encouraging them to vote — it’s one of the easiest things you can do that meaningfully increases the odds that the recipient will vote. Obviously there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the election process during Covid-19, including how people will vote this year, but one thing is certain: it’s critical that they do so. Whatever method Americans use to safely vote this year, receiving a hand-written Vote Forward letter will make them more likely to cast a ballot. Adopt your registered voters today, and start preparing letters to send

MORE RESOURCES AND ORGANIZATIONS

Reclaim the American Dream is an informational gateway aimed at helping people who are upset about America today to get engaged in fixing our democracy and making our economy fairer at the local level, where people power still has clout. 

East Bay Animal PAC — If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out our work to elect animal-friendly candidates. You can contribute from wherever you are, and as a member, you are eligible to vote in our endorsement elections. And check out other animal-related organizations to help animals during elections in particular and the political arena in general:

Voters for Animal Rights (NY), Colorado Voters for Animals (CO), Maryland Votes for Animals, Connecticut Votes for Animals (CT), Animal Protection Voters, Animal Wellness Action

An interesting article for your day: Animals Vote, Too!

I’M A TED SPEAKER!⁠

We all have goals, we all have dreams. Presenting a talk on the TED / TEDx stage has been one of mine.

It’s certainly not the end-all / be-all to be chosen to speak at a TEDx event, but it has been a goal. Why? Because I do think I have an idea worth spreading — namely that:

??Animals are here for their own purposes and not for our use. Animals have intrinsic value; they are not here to be our entertainment, our food, our test subjects, or our shooting targets. We are part of their community, and they are part of ours as residents, as co-inhabitants, as contributors, as members—not as outsiders, objects, or intruders. My idea worth spreading is compassion. ?

Many people have asked me over the years why I haven’t been on the TED stage, and the answer is simply because I haven’t been accepted. I’ve submitted various applications to various TEDx events over the years, and I was rejected each time.

☄️It could have been that my topic wasn’t the right fit for that event’s theme.
☄️It could have been that I didn’t write a good enough summary of my idea.
☄️It could be that my ideas are bunk!

Who knows? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve been selected as a speaker for TEDx Dupree Park in Woodstock, Georgia on May 15th, 2020.

As I have more to share, I will, but I thought you’d like to hear the good news. Now, wish me luck. I’m terrified! (Be careful what you wish for! You just might get it!)

P.S. For those who live in the Atlanta area, I believe the event is by invitation only (it’s small), but I’m planning on putting together some kind of bookstore event in the area. Stay tuned, and make sure you’re on the mailing list. 

Better is Better: The Emotional and Practical Aspects of Fostering Cats and Dogs

How do you love someone and let them go? How do you make sure the good intentions you have lead to good results? How do we help the scores of rescued animals who are looking for forever homes? In today’s (LONG) episode, I recount my experiences — both stressful and successful — fostering cats. While cats have their own particular needs, my hope is that even if you’re looking to foster dogs, rabbits, or hamsters you’ll glean some inspiration and guidance. Take a listen, and let me know what you think.

3 Tips for Avoiding Animal Cruelty When Traveling

We may not intend to, but there are so many ways we contribute to animal cruelty and exploitation while we’re traveling (domestically and abroad)! National Geographic published a hugely important article about the rise of attractions around the world that exploit animals for tourists. Three of the recommendations for travelers:

  1. avoid any kind of attraction where you pay to directly interact with wild animals (don’t pay to pet, bathe, get photos with, or touch wild animals). 
  2. make a point to see animals in national parks, protected habitats, refuges,  and ethical safaris that help generate income to protect wild animals and their homes.
  3. support genuine sanctuaries that provide refuge to rescued animals who can no longer survive in the wild. (Do your own research; just because they call themselves a “sanctuary,” it doesn’t mean they are. Always reach out to trusted sources if you’re unsure.)

I talked about exactly all of this in great detail in my podcast episode called Avoiding Animal Cruelty When Traveling to Thailand and Everywhere. 

Sadly, one of the reasons we visited so many animal rescue groups in Thailand is because of how much animal cruelty, wildlife trafficking, and animal exploitation there is in that country, allowed by the government and deeply entrenched in the culture. For instance, elephants used in the tourism/riding and logging industries endure a lifetime of suffering and separation. 

Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat — like the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, lions in Botswana, bison in Yellowstone, or the deer in our own backyards — is heart-stopping, breath-taking, and supports the animals, their habitat, and the local residents. 

Of course, when we travel (either on our own or on the group Joyful Vegan Trips we host), we take care to avoid animal cruelty, and we visit true sanctuaries and protected habitat where the safety and well-being of the animals are the main priority. We take this very seriously and vet our partners very carefully. 

We hosted 54 travelers on two back-to-back trips to Rwanda and we have upcoming trips to … well, see for yourself! I hope you can join us one day to experience the trip of a lifetime—while supporting the care and conservation of the animals whose homes we visit.  

How Zero Waste Changed the Way I Eat (And Why Baby Carrots Are Evil)

Once you decide to make zero-waste, plastic-free, low- or no-packaging a priority in your life, you learn very quickly you have to make some changes when it comes to what you buy, how you shop, what you eat, and how you cook. Some might find this an inconvenience. I find it an adventure. Journey with me as I share some reflections on favorite foods and how my relationship with them has changed since “becoming zero-waste.”  Oh right, and I’ll also share with you WHY BABY CARROTS ARE EVIL from this joyful vegan’s point of view. 

Thank you to supporters for making this a 100% listener-supported podcast. Become a supporter at patreon.com/colleenpatrickgoudreau!

The Last Thanksgiving Turkey

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, it seems there isn’t a magazine, newspaper, or website that doesn’t feature recipes for every means and method of stuffing, brining, and roasting turkeys. And every year, vegetarians, vegans, and animal advocates urge the public (and their family members) to leave the turkey off the menu in favor of plant-based sides and mains.

The problem is that by the time these well-intentioned campaigns begin, it’s already too late. 

But there is hope. Try this, instead!

GET YOUR FREE JOYFUL VEGAN GUIDE

Includes delicious plant-based recipes and a meal plan!




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