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Tag: compassion

How Do You Want to Spend This Time?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

My absolute, absolute favorite quote from The Fellowship of the Ring. (I include it in the beginning of chapter 9 in The Joyful Vegan.)

It’s timeless, and it’s timely.

Of course, we should be considering this every day — not just in a time of crisis like we’re experiencing now. But while our lives are disrupted and we’re physically (and painfully) distancing from one another, it sure seems like a good time to ratchet that up.

J.R.R. Tolkein wrote Lord of the Rings several years after returning from the First World War — during which time he witnessed death and suffering beyond what most of us can even imagine, including the slaughter of his dearest friends, and survived trench fever and many illnesses that he contracted from his time in the cold, wet, lice-infested trenches.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

I’m not saying we have to pressure ourselves to write the next great novel or find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic, but creating some parameters around this time may be helpful, useful, and meaningful.

In other words, what can we do now so that when we look back 6 or 12 months from now, we can say, “I’m glad I did that” or “I’m proud of how I used that time”?

It might be

  • reading Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, because…Gandalf!
  • reading any book you’ve been meaning to read
  • watching a documentary series
  • decluttering your house
  • planting a garden
  • learning to bake bread
  • or … writing the next great novel

What you choose to do is up to you, and that’s the point. What do you want to do now so you can look back months from now and be happy or proud or satisfied with what you decided?

Time is going to pass anyway. How do you want to spend it? 

Captive Animals, Captive Humans⁠

(I wrote this letter to the Washington Post in response to their article about animals in zoos during Coronavirus a couple days before a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for Covid-19.)

In reading the end of your article about how “some zoos and aquariums … are streaming live-feeds of their exhibits to keep the public connected to their animals,” I couldn’t help but see the irony in live-streaming videos of captive animals to the homes of captive humans.

The fact that zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 pass from animals to humans is another irony that should also not be lost on your readers. While Covid-19 (and SARS before it) originated in a live market where wild animals are kept to be sold for human consumption, it is precisely confinement of wild animals and their proximity to humans that increase the chances of zoonotic diseases passing between human and non-human animals.

Perhaps a silver lining in all of this will be a heightened awareness that other animals’ desire for freedom, life, autonomy, and self-determination is as strong as our own. If we’re frustrated by our temporary lack of mobility and independence, imagine how they feel.

We can admire birds in our backyards; watch bees pollinate flowers; or spot wild turkeys, deer, and lizards while on a hiking trail.

We can be captivated by animals without holding them captive.

~Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Actions You Can Take

  • Writing (thoughtful, respectful) letters to editors of newspapers — locally, regionally, and nationally — is a wonderful way to be a voice for animals and helps you articulate your thoughts about a given subject.
  • For more on animals and coronavirus, check out my series on the Food for Thought podcast about how the virus affects and is affected by non-human animals.
  • Please feel free to share any or all of this letter.

Related Topics

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? 

50 Ways to Live A Meaningful Life

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how,” wrote Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning. The question isn’t “how can I be happy in my life?” but rather “how can I create meaning and purpose in my life?” When we seek meaning, happiness follows. Here is a list of 50 ways to create a meaningful, purposeful life that have worked for me. May it be a guide for you. 

In what ways do YOU find meaning in your life? Please comment below!

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.

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!

How to Be a Joyful Vegan

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!