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Tag: animals

Animals and Coronavirus: Poaching and Eating Wild Animals

Join me for this Food for Thought podcast series that examines what the covid-19 / coronavirus virus means for non-human animals and the habits, laws, and policies that affect our treatment of them. The first episode in the series focuses on wild animals who are poached, farmed, and eaten.

The source for the recent coronavirus outbreak that has led to a devastating worldwide pandemic has been linked to a market in mainland China, where wild animals are sold and killed for human consumption. China has said it will permanently ban the consumption of animals, but many questions remain.

  • Will this virus put an end to the illegal wildlife trade in China and Southeast Asia?
  • Will the wildlife farms in China reopen once the pandemic is over?
  • Will this be the end to live animal markets and wet markets where wild and domesticated animals are sold and killed for meat?
  • Will China close the loopholes (such as exemptions for fur and Traditional Chinese Medicine) that exist in their bans on wildlife poaching and consumption?
  • Will good come out of this devastation?
  • Is there anything you can do to help make a difference?

Listen to this listener-supported episode as I attempt to answer these questions. (become a supporter at patreon.com/colleenpatrickgoudreau)

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Issues addressed in this episode

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Illegal Wildlife Trade
  • Poaching
  • Wet Markets
  • Live Animal Markets
  • Bear Bile Farming / Farms
  • Wild Animal Farming 
  • Wildlife Protection Laws in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries
  • Covid-19 / Coronavirus Pandemic
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Zoonotic Diseases 

Vaccines Are a Bunch of Bull: Animal-Related Words for Diseases and Cures

Animal-Related Words for Diseases and Cures

No, this episode is not about denying the life-saving efficacy of vaccinations; it’s about all the animal-related words we have for diseases and cures, including the word VACCINE, which comes from the Latin word for a cow or bull. It’s just another example of how how deeply rooted animals are in our consciousness, in our history, and in our lives — for better and for worse.

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Why Vegan? Pick a Reason. Any Reason.

Some people choose to stop eating animal flesh and fluids to experience health benefits or to reverse a particular illness or ailment. Some people don’t want to contribute to violence against animals or pay people to work in an industry that desensitizes them to animal suffering and thus to their own compassion.

Aware of the devastating effects of animal agriculture on the environment, some people are moved to help prevent global warming. With precious rainforests disappearing in order to create grazing land for cattle, wild animals being killed at the behest of private ranchers, and precious resources being poured into what is an unsustainable system, eliminating the consumption of animal products is indeed a logical and sensible response. 

So, pick a reason — any reason, and it alone would be reason enough to justify eating an animal-free diet. Whether you care about human rights, food safety, wild animals, the environment, world hunger, farmed animals, or your own health, just a cursory look at these issues demonstrates how intricately linked they are to our consumption of animal-based meat, dairy, and eggs.

Which reason do you choose? 

Can You Eat Eggs And Still Be Vegan?

Is there such a thing as an egg-eating vegan?

Because hens don’t have to be killed to obtain their eggs, many people have been conditioned to perceive eggs as being healthy, humane, and cruelty-free, despite the fact that the majority of them are from factory farms.

To demonstrate their compassion for animals in general and battery cage hens in particular, as well their desire to promote animal welfare, they buy eggs labeled free-range, cage free, humane, and organic, believing they are not contributing to animal cruelty and factory farming.  

Many people often declare that they get eggs from local farmers or backyard hens, who are genuinely cage-free. That leads them to ask me one of the most common questions I receive about veganism, ethics, and animals: what’s wrong with eating eggs from backyard hens / chickens since it doesn’t contribute to animal cruelty. What if that person is vegan in every other way but eats the eggs of their own rescued hens? Or sanctuary hens? Or their hens who are “pets”? In other words:

  1. Is it unethical / problematic / perpetuating cruelty to avoid buying factory farmed animal products but eat eggs from rescued hens? AND 
  2. Can that person call themselves vegan?

Truth Bombs

  • To call yourself vegan, the presumption is you don’t eat animal flesh and fluids. That’s not an arbitrary characterization. While there are grey areas related to being vegan, it’s safe to say that the most basic definition of that is that you’re not eating anything that comes out of an animal. 
  • There is no such thing as a vegan overlord. In the end, whatever you call yourself is up to you.
  • Eggs are loaded with problematic dietary cholesterol, animal fat, and animal protein — not to mention being carriers of foodborne pathogens such as salmonella.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids reside in plants — not animal products. Skip the middle chicken and get your nutrients directly from the source: plants.
  • If there is no rooster, there is no chance the hens’ eggs will become fertilized. No rooster, no chick.
  • Intention has a lot to do with the decisions we make about the critters in our care.
  • Being vegan is about doing what we can to foster compassion and to avoid contributing to violence. It’s not about being perfect, and it’s not about being pure.
  • Being vegan is a means to an end, not an end in itself. I don’t aspire to be as vegan as I can be. I aspire to be as compassionate as I can be. 
  • In order to help animals, we need to change the paradigm from one of entitlement to one of communality.

Does Being Vegan Really Make a Difference?

Why Even Bother Being Vegan?

I think every vegan (and probably vegetarian) has heard some variation of this:⁠

  • one person being vegan doesn’t save animals.⁠
  • just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean animals aren’t killed.⁠
  • the problem is just too large; individual behavioral changes just don’t have an impact.⁠

⁠That’s the big question, right? Why do anything at all when you know that there isn’t a direct correlation between YOUR behavior and an act of violence? ⁠

Why, indeed? ⁠

The answer is…because it’s the right thing to do. ⁠

As I say in The Joyful Vegan, the world isn’t one big math problem to solve. Even though I can’t quantify the benefits to the animals and our planet, I’m vegan, because I don’t want to contribute to the culture of violence that IS (by design) the meat, dairy, and egg industries. ⁠

I may not be able to save the 9 to 10 billion land animals brought into this world only to be killed, but I can at least put my head on my pillow each night and know that *I* didn’t consciously partake in something that is anathema to my very being: HURTING ANIMALS.⁠

For me, being vegan is about being⁠

  • compassionate⁠
  • consistent⁠
  • in alignment⁠ with my values

After all, what’s the point in having values and principles and ethics if they don’t manifest themselves in our behavior? ⁠

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 have hosted trips to Rwanda, Thailand, Botswana, Vietnam, Italy, and France, 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.

Turkeys Need You More After Thanksgiving!

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, we’re bombarded by recipes for every means and method of stuffing, brining, and roasting turkeys. At the same time, vegetarians, vegans, and animal advocates desperately try to rise above the din and urge the public 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.

Not only do most people not want to forego their butter-basted bird, by October — and certainly by November — 45 million turkeys will have already been brought into this world, confined, de-toed, slaughtered, eviscerated, trussed, and frozen.

With another 22 million turkeys killed for Christmas and with an unnaturally short gestation-to-slaughter period of about 5 months, the time to start talking about behavior changes is long before the artificial insemination of turkeys begins (spring/summer).

BUT THIS IS WHERE I HAVE HOPE!

What we do today and the weeks and months that follow will have a direct impact on the animals we’re choosing not to eat tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

SO START NOW! Even if you eat turkey this Thanksgiving, make a pledge to leave turkey off your plate next year by starting today! (And let this be your message to friends and family this holiday season.)

[Tweet “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.”]

Hone your skills NOW and be prepared for the days ahead. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Proclaim your pledge. Research shows that by simply stating your intention to do something new increases the likelihood that you’ll actually do it.
  • Recruit help. Tap into the knowledge and passion of your friendly neighborhood vegan, or take The 30-Day Vegan Challenge (the price is reduced for the online program, and a gift option is now available! (Alternatively, the book is a fantastic resource!)
  • Try some new plant-based products! Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at what you see!
  • Practice new recipes nowWe all rotate the same dishes again and again! See what you make that’s already plant-based, make easy switches for others (plant-based milks and butter in place of dairy, for instance), and then try a couple new recipes. (You know I’m going to point you to my favorite cookbooks, right?)

As you commit to making this change for the coming days, may you find that this holiday is enhanced by creating food-based rituals that affirm rather than take life and that celebrate the fact that neither our values nor 45 million animals need be sacrificed in order to celebrate a single holiday meal.

It’s never too early to start planning for a compassionate future.

Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.

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!