Tag: conservation

Vegan Travel: Vietnam

Rich in history, sophisticated cuisine, stunning scenery, pulsating cities,  fascinating culture, Vietnam is consistently rated one of the top best countries to visit, and today I take you on a journey to this beautiful place. Today’s focus is food (plant-based, of course), animal protection, nature, and culture. I let you know what animal and conservation organizations to visit and support, what to avoid in terms of animal cruelty and exploitation, and how to make the most of your trip ? whether you go on your own or as part of a CPG Vegan Trip.

Zero Waste: It Ain’t About Recycling

In this episode about my zero waste journey, I share the principles that have absolutely changed my thinking and way of living. Zero Waste is not simply about my making YouTube videos about how to make zero-waste almond milk (though I will do that!), it’s a way of thinking that profoundly changes our approach to resources and production, going beyond “waste diversion” and striving to ensure that products are designed to be repaired, refurbished, re-manufactured and reused, creating a circular economy rather than a linear economy of “make, use, dispose.”

What you will learn in this episode is that Zero Waste is not about recycling.

Recycling IS waste. Have I blown your mind yet?

Co-Existing with Carnivores: A Conversation with Project Coyote’s Camilla Fox

The TRUE carnivores of the world provide SO much benefit to our ecosystems, but they’re misunderstood, maligned, and systematically killed, mostly because of the HUMANS who pose as carnivores. Animal agriculture doesn’t only affect the billions of its direct victims, it also destroys the lives and habitats of millions of individual wild animals.  Today’s guest on Food for Thought has devoted her life to changing attitudes and policies about the most maligned members of our communities. Camilla Fox is the founder of Project Coyote, a national nonprofit of scientists, educators, ranchers and citizen leaders who work together to change laws and policies to protect native carnivores from abuse and mismanagement, advocating coexistence instead of killing. 

[Tweet “Animal agriculture kills millions of wild animals as well as billions of domesticated animals.”]

May we come to view coyotes, wolves, mountain lions and other misunderstood predators who are native to the United States with understanding, respect and appreciation — rather than with fear, ignorance, and brutality. Listen to learn how YOU can help! 

How to Talk to Hunters (or anyone with whom you disagree)

WARNING: Radical ideas fill this episode — the most popular of Food for Thought episodes — centering around the suggestion that we try to have compassion for people with whom we disagree or who participate in behavior we find abhorrent. That’s the thing about compassion: it’s gotta be equal opportunity or it’s just inauthentic. It’s easy to be compassionate towards like-minded people; the challenge is choosing to have compassion towards those with whom we disagree. Check out this episode for tips and suggestions on communicating with compassion – but only if you want to create change in the world.

Close the Zoos (East Bay Times Guest Commentary)

(The East Bay Times — formerly The Oakland Tribune)

I wonder sometimes if things wouldn’t be better for animals if we were less captivated by them. In a strange, contradictory way, our fascination with them — even our appreciation for them — is what causes us to harm them the most.

Understand animals desire freedom, close the zoos (East Bay Times guest commentary)

We’re so attracted to their beauty that we adorn ourselves with their skin, feathers and fur. We’re so moved by their intelligence that we force them to perform for us. We’re so covetous of their strength that we seek to assimilate it by consuming and ingesting their bits and parts.

We’re so intrigued by their very presence that we confine and display them just so we can gawk, observing with amazement how much like us they actually are.

Exhibiting animals — particularly large, wild, “exotic” animals — goes back as far as ancient times. These menageries, precursors of modern zoos, tended to be owned by the wealthy, whose human supremacy and power could be displayed along with their animal collections.

Not much has changed — except perhaps in the modern way we shroud the ugliness of animal captivity in the guise of science and conservation.

Zoos celebrate their breeding programs as a means to propagate endangered species, but to what end? Not a single lowland gorilla or mountain gorilla — or for that matter, black rhino, elephant or orangutan — all of whom are classified as critically endangered — has ever gone from a U.S. zoo back into the wild.

Zoos populate zoos. Breeding programs replenish cages. For captive breeding programs to be successful, wild habitats must be preserved. The dollars spent (by the public and by zoos) on animal exhibits would be better spent on protecting already-wild individuals and rapidly disappearing habitats.

More than that, thousands of animals in zoos are betrayed by their alleged champions every year. To curb overpopulation, animals are killed on a regular basis in zoos around the world, either to be fed to other captive animals or to zoo patrons.

If they’re not killed, “surplus animals” — those individuals zoos no longer considered profitable because they’re neither young enough nor cute enough to attract crowds — wind up in circuses, private residences and even in the hands of taxidermists.

A two-year investigation by the Mercury News found that 38 percent of the mammals bred in accredited zoos were sold to dealers, auctions, hunting ranches and roadside zoos.

Zoos emphasize their role in educating the public about wildlife, instilling a love of animals and fostering appreciation for the natural world, though evidence suggests that zoos do not in fact increase our knowledge or understanding of either animals or nature.

One of the reasons is that zoo animals don’t exhibit natural behaviors in captivity. What they exhibit instead are neurotic behaviors and repetitive rituals, such as pacing, bar-biting, swaying and circling — no matter how much zoos design their enclosures to mimic their respective natural habitats.

Not only is captivity not beneficial for the prisoners, it instills nothing in us but human arrogance, supremacy and apathy, perpetuating the idea that nonhuman animals are here for us to use, abuse and exploit for our own pleasures and purposes.

Not so when we admire birds in our backyards; watch bees pollinate flowers; or spot wild turkeys, deer, and lizards from a hiking trail. We can be captivated by animals without holding them captive.

It’s not that we should find animals less fascinating or beautiful or impressive. It’s not that we should appreciate animals less.

What we need to do is appreciate more that animals’ inherent desire for freedom, life, autonomy and self-determination is as strong as our own. That in these ways, they are indeed just like us.

We don’t need to change our admiration for nonhuman animals as much as we need to change our understanding of how nonhuman animals see themselves.

If that were the lens through which we looked, we would be as outraged at the mere existence of zoos as we are by those who suggest they be obsolete.

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