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.
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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
My hope is that we can navigate through this world with the grace and integrity of those who most need our protection.
May we have the sense of humor and liveliness of the goats; may we have the maternal instincts and protective nature of the hens and the sassiness of the roosters.
May we have the gentleness and strength of the cattle and the wisdom, humility, and serenity of the donkeys.
May we appreciate the need for community as do the sheep and choose our companions as carefully as do the rabbits.
May we have the faithfulness and commitment to family of the geese, the adaptability and affability of the ducks.
May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys.
My hope is that we can learn from the animals what we need to become better people.
May it be so.
Please feel free to share this text, share any of the graphics on your social media pages, or print either version of the PDF. One is titled A Prayer for Humans; one is titled A Hope for Humans.
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!
Millions of people are choosing veganism—or plant-based eating—as a logical and sensible response to their concerns about animals, the environment, and their health. And yet, despite their positive intentions and even the personal benefits they experience, many revert back to consuming meat, dairy, and eggs.
I’m trying to change that. For the animals. For our planet.
For my fellow humans. After decades of gathering stories, drawing on my own observations and experiences, studying the data that’s available, and hearing from thousands of people, I’ve come to learn that people stay vegan or stop being vegan depending on well they navigate the social, cultural, and emotional aspects of living vegan in a non-vegan world:
- constantly being asked to defend your food choices
- being outside of the status quo and not having a sense of belonging (where you once did)
- feeling the pressure (often self-inflicted) to be perfect
- and experiencing guilt, remorse, and anger
All common experiences that—if not addressed—can lead to giving up entirely. In my latest book, The Joyful Vegan, I provide the tools for navigating and overcoming the most common challenges, arming readers with solutions and strategies for:
- cultivating healthy relationships (with vegans and non-vegans)
- communicating effectively
- sharing enthusiasm without proselytizing
- finding like-minded community
- and experiencing peace of mind in a world that wants you to eat meat, dairy, and eggs.
By implementing the tools in this book, I believe that readers will find that they can live ethically, eat healthfully, engage socially, remain a joyful vegan—and help others do the same!
One of my goals has always been to take the word “vegan” out of the box called “vegan.” My goal is constantly thwarted by
*vegans overusing the word vegan
*the use of “vegan” to refer to food as well as people
*advocates who tell people to “go vegan”
*the attempt by some vegans to narrow the definition and make the word “vegan” refer to every social problem that exists in the world
If you call yourself vegan or have ever been told you can’t call yourself vegan, this episode is for you.
Upon learning about the Trump administration’s weakening of our country’s most effective conservation law, I lamented for a moment, then got to work writing this commentary. My editor at KQED Radio accepted it right away, I recorded it yesterday, and it aired today.
May we each use our voice and the power we have to speak up, to vote, and to act on behalf of what’s right. This is my small contribution to that end.
▶️ “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed,” said the Republican president prior to resigning under the threat of impeachment.
No, that’s not a prediction of the near future; it’s actually a memory of the not-so-distant past when Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he was signing the Endangered Species Act.
Since then, this law has played a significant role in the recovery of hundreds of endangered and threatened animals, plants, and habitats.
Before this landmark legislation, due to poisons and pesticides, only 400 breeding pairs of bald eagles were known to live in the lower 48 states. Today, it’s 30 times that.
At the time, hunters and ranchers had successfully dwindled the grey wolf population to just a few hundred; today, albeit still threatened, they number more than 5,000.
Before their protection under the Endangered Species Act, only 200 American crocodiles remained. Today there are more than 2,000 individuals.
But now their days—and those of hundreds of other species—are numbered.
This week, the Trump administration announced it will take steps to roll back our country’s most effective conservation law that could pave the way for development, drilling, and mining in regions where protected species live.
Itself an endangered species, the Republican Party once laid claim to a strong tradition of environmental stewardship, but that tradition has gone the way of the Dodo. The party of Trump has ceded its commitment to country, compassion, and conservation in favor of power, politics, and populism. Instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the creation of national parks and forests, the Grand Old Party’s devotion to compassionate conservatism is all but extinct.
While one administration’s policies can be overturned by the one that follows, some consequences are simply irreversible.
Extinction is permanent.
When deciding who should represent our American values in our various branches of government, may our national bird serve as both a reminder of what we accomplished in the past and a warning of what we could lose in the future.
With a Perspective, I’m Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
Arranging incredible meals for all our vegan travelers is 10x easier in Rwanda than it is in France.
We have officially sold out of our December 2020 Botswana trip (where it’s ALSO easier to eat plant-based than France — especially rural France). Which is why…our Summer-in-the-South-of-France Vegan Trips in June/July 2020 are going to be off the hook!
Everything non-vegans eat vegans will eat BETTER! We mean EVERYTHING that is seasonal and regional, we arrange vegan versions of!
We also take over our very own 4-star villa. We visit the world-famous Lascaux cave to see the replicas of 17,000 years-old animal paintings!!! We have a special private visit the first European elephant sanctuary! Castles, river boat ride, wineries and vineyards, and so much more!
Our Summer in France trips are now starting to sell out, and I hope you visit the details on our website to see if you can join us. There’s one more month to sign up, and if the trip is not a go, of course you get 100% of your money back. It’s a win-win situation!
For the animals…CPG
Rwanda is considered the cleanest and greenest country in East Africa. It’s not because Rwanda employs more street sweepers, gardeners, and road crews than other countries, and it’s not (only) because of the decade-long ban on plastic bags.
It’s also because of a monthly communal ritual called Umuganda, a Kinyarwanda word that translates to “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome.” Military service isn’t compulsory in Rwanda but Umuganda is — for able-bodied people ages 18 to 65 — and it takes place on the last Saturday of each month.
Because expatriates and visitors are welcome to participate and because — on our Joyful Vegan Trips to Rwanda — we scheduled our to be there on the day of that month’s Umuganda, we arranged to visit a local village to join them build a road.
Umuganda in its current form was reintroduced in 1998 as part of the effort to rebuild the country and to nurture a shared national identity after the 1994 genocide.
As a U.S. citizen in a deeply divided country, it’s not a huge leap to draw parallels between the past divisiveness in Rwanda and the present divisiveness in my own country. If that sounds dramatic, then consider this:
A recent survey (referenced in this op-ed) asked both Republicans and Democrats, “Do you ever think we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died’?” Some 20 percent of Democrats (12.6 million voters) and 16 percent of Republicans (7.9 million voters) said yes.
When asked, “What if the opposing party wins the 2020 presidential election. How much do you feel violence would be justified then?” 18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said violence would be justified on a scale ranging from “a little” to “a lot.”
Over a 3-month period in 1994 in Rwanda, this very sentiment manifested itself into a methodical massacre in which approximately 800,000 citizens were brutally killed by their fellow citizens—neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and friends.
If Rwandans can heal, unite, and forgive after such a massive atrocity, anyone can. We have much cleaning up to do in our own country—both literally and figuratively, and we must take it seriously.
Garbage clean-up anyone?
Photo Credit: Jennifer Hadley