A Look Behind the Scene's at NYC's Empty Cages Collective
PAnimal exploitation happens every day. It takes many forms, from factory farming and laboratory testing, to animal trafficking, zoos, and circuses. Then there are those who abuse and neglect them. For many animals, the world of human desire means a life of mistreatment for them soley based on the social prejudice toward whatever form their body happens to take. This global problem is so vast and so largely ignored by so many, so to even begin to approach it can seem overwhelming to say the least. But there are those who dare.
Rescue organizations play a vital and pivotal role not only in saving the lives of animals and offering them a haven for rest and rehabilitation, but also in raising awareness to the plight that animals face every day in a world so absolutely dominated by humans and their will. Empty Cages Collective
, a rescue organization in NYC, is one such group, taking in a large range of animals that, for various reasons, need their help. I recently had the opportunity to sit down and interview PJ McKosky, the head of ECC, for an inside look at the important and challenging work that goes in to saving the lives of those in need: VPO: What made you want to get involved in animal rights activism?PJM:
I don't know if it was ever a choice for me. I feel more like I was presented with a ethical imperative and could only say yes. I grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania very much in love with nature and feeling very connected and concerned with animals from a young age. When I was twelve years old I began volunteering at a all-volunteer wildlife rehabilitation and rescue where I saw many animals who had been horrifically injured and harmed by human greed, carelessness, callousness and ignorance. Mallard ducks who had their legs ripped off by leg hold traps, flying squirrels who were injured but not killed by rat "snap" traps, aquatic birds with horrible injuries from fishing lines and tackle and other animals who were shot, poisoned by pesticides, entangled in litter and some stolen from the wild to be made into "pets". Seeing these victims every week really radicalized me. I quickly became a vegetarian and eventually a vegan. Everything in the world seemed to be forcing me to be more involved and more outspoken about these issues.
I remember one day when I was about 13 I got a package of informational materials in the mail from one of the large National animal rights organizations and in it was a video of fur farms and trapping. I had never seen anything like it. Minks having their necks broken, foxes and chinchillas being anally and vaginally electrocuted, coyotes having their chests stomped on until they died and beavers being drowned in painful underwater traps... and I remember being so angry and shocked at the degree of cruelty and ugliness in the world... and vowing to never stop trying to do something
to make things right for animals.
VPO: How did ECC get its start and what made you want to run your own rescue?
Empty Cages Collective started more organically than "wanting" to start my own rescue. I had just moved back to Brooklyn from San Francisco where I was working on forest protection issues, as well as being involved in some local animal rights work in the bay area (and doing work from a distance with the animal rights group I helped start in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)... when I found myself with a really strong drive to want to do something hands-on. Empty Cages started as a Trap-Neuter-Return group who was focused on sterilizing and providing veterinary care for as many feral, free roaming cats as possible. However, that work quickly blossomed into additional work... dozens of starving white doves who had been released at a wedding in Queens, left for dead and in need of rescue, rats who a laboratory was "finished with" and had planned to kill the animals if we wouldn't take them, game roosters who were exploited in illegal fighting rings who, once seized by Animal Care & Control would only be killed... we took all of these animals and provided care for them and found eventual placement. We also filled a need for beings who had no other hope. VPO: On average, how many animals do you have at the rescue?PJM:
We have a shelter space, as well as a number of foster homes throughout the city. At any given time we have over 100 rescued animals in our care. VPO: What types of animals have you helped?PJM:
Dogs. Cats. Hamsters. Gerbils. Chickens. Squirrels. Opossums. Woodchucks. Rabbits. Parrots. Snakes. Rats. Lizards. Turtles. Pigeons. Doves. Tarantulas. We help who we can, when we can (meaning when we are able to provide care with the limited resources we have). Animals come in lots of shapes and sizes with specific individualized and species-specific needs, but when they are facing cruelty or unnecessary killing: they are equally worthy of getting a helping hand. I only wish we could do more for more individuals. VPO: What are some of the most memorable experiences you've had at ECC?PJM:
Our work is constant beauty and constant misery--and simultaneously.
We've had stray kittens come in with their entire bodies covered in wounds that were filled with flesh eating maggots... the kittens seeming like they were moments from death... to turn around and treat those animals medically and get them veterinary care... and have them placed in awesome, loving homes. We've had a python, Claudia, who was abandoned in the Bronx with wounds so severe and infected that you could see entire pieces of bone in the deep, long wounds... recover from the veterinary and nursing care we've provided for her. We've rescued cats who tested positive for feline leukemia and were scheduled to be killed only to have their immune systems fight off the virus and end up as completely normal and healthy cats who can be placed in a normal adoption situation. We've been able to medically treat and release injured and ailing pigeons and other birds who other wildlife "rescue" centers said were not salvageable and should be killed from giving them extra time and medical care.
The successes remind us to keep fighting for other animals because they need us too. The horrors which are equally memorable remind us of the need to try harder and to keep fighting still.
VPO: Name some of the problems or issues you've come across working to rescue animals: PJM:
There is a constant bombardment of problems that get in the way of helping animals. Institutionalized violence in the form of archaic policies that force animals to be killed in the face of life saving alternatives. There are animal rescue organizations who serve meat, dairy and eggs at their fundraisers and events that only cause more animal suffering and killing under the guise of helping animals. Other organizations who identify as "no kill" (sic) kill completely rehabilitatable animals who would have a quality of life if given the chance like cats who test positive for feline leukemia and FIV, pigeons with wing injuries that prevent normal flight, and dogs with treatable behavior problems. Being bombarded with the inconsistencies and absolute commitment to outdated ways of perceiving and treating animals by people who supposedly care can be overwhelming. The biggest problem facing animals (and probably all social justice causes) is not the people who perpetuate the violence and cruelty in the world, but the people who know terrible things are happening, allegedly believe and want change and yet do nothing or very little. I think inaction and underlying apathy and self-absorption in culture creates huge roadblocks for getting things done for animals in need, as well as others. There is a desperate need for change in this realm. VPO: What are some of the ways people can help out ECC directly, even if
they aren't in the area? PJM:
Empty Cages Collective is in constant need of three things and in this order: Money, Volunteers & Adopters. We are an all-volunteer group who runs on donations. Our only way to pay for supplies, food, veterinary care is because of the generosity of individuals. People can make donations through our website: www.emptycagescollective.org/donate
if they so desire. We also have an Amazon Wish List with many of the products that we need to do our work. People can buy a gift for the animals by checking it out at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/266L95367IP8Q/ref=wl_web
The other way people can help if they aren't local is to get active in general. Get involved with local rescue work. Foster animals who would otherwise get killed in your area, volunteer at local adoption events, clean cages at the local wildlife rescue. Raise money for good groups doing good work. Live a vegan life and encourage other people to do the same. There is so much work to be done, just do something... and do it well and do a lot of it. VPO: For people that want to get involved in animal rescue in their own communities but aren't sure how to go about it, what do you suggest?PJM:
I think doing some research through sites like www.adoptapet.com
for local animal rescue organizations that seem like a good fit is a good first step. Look for organizations who seem to have progressive politics about animals and their rights and seem to mesh well with your personality... and offer to volunteer. Eventually someone will put you to work. As I said above, I think its so important to just get started... do something, do it well and do a lot of it. The animals are counting on us to remind the culture at large that animals are facing enormous amounts of exploitation, cruelty and unnecessary killing. The animals need each one of us to work to stop the abuse and killing through prevention and education, as well as rescue as many victims as possible. I can stress how important it is to do something and to do as much as is personally sustainable. VPO: I'm sure sometimes your work can become overwhelming, where do you find motivation to keep up the good fight?PJM:
It is sometimes very difficult to find motivation... especially when pondering the big picture. However, I find a lot of motivation and inspiration from individual animals that I encounter. There is a profound amount of beauty, resilience and goodness in the world and I try to keep (at the very least) my mind's eye on it even when I feel overwhelmed with the ugliness. We've seen so many animals who have been so injured, so violated by humans, so harmed unnecessarily... fight for their lives and recover from their injuries and show such immense resilience and spirit in the face of a very indifferent and cruel human culture. For me, thats inspiring and motivating. If animals can be beaten, poisoned, abandoned, shot, kicked, imprisoned, enslaved and still find the drive to want to live and to see their lives left intact and find a life worth living... then I feel kinda humbled in my need to get over myself when all of this feels like its all too much to face and keep fighting. VPO: Lastly, for those interested in adopting or volunteering, how should they go about it? PJM:
We are always in need of volunteers and adopters! Interested Adopters should get in touch with ECC at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 1(800) 880-2684
. Potential volunteers should get in touch with ECC at email@example.com
or 1(800) 880-2684
. We ask for at least a 4 hour a week commitment for at least 6 months. We ask a lot of our volunteers because they are the only way ECC functions--so volunteering for ECC is more like an unpaid position at a "real" job... but the reward is knowing you're helping dozens and dozens of animals who once faced cruelty and killing move towards a better life... whether thats in a loving home, at a sanctuary or returned back to their habitats once read to be released.
We recently were lucky enough to rub elbows with the dynamic Compassion Couture duo (and sisters!) Jill and Tracey - and here's what they had to say about their cruelty-free online eco-shop:VPO: Let's talk about how it all began; Can you explain what setsCompassion Couture apart and what motivated you to start your site?CC (Tracey):
Compassion Couture is unique for a few reasons but there are two
main factors that differentiate us from most all-vegan stores. First off, we place
a lot of importance on the impact we make on the world around us so we make
sure that all the brands we sell (in addition to being 100% animal friendly) share
this value as well. Each brand approaches this from a different aspect that they
feel is important, such as using recycled or repurposed materials, manufacturing
locally under fair trade practices, using low-impact dyes, water based glues, etc.
The second thing that I think sets us apart from the rest is that we hand-pick every
item sold on our site. Both of us have our own unique sense of style and we
collaborate before placing any orders for merchandise. This means you will not
find an item on our e-boutique that either Jill or I (or both of us) would not want for
ourselves.VPO: Are you vegan/vegetarian? What was the path that led you towards living amore compassionate lifestyle?CC (Tracey):
Both of us have always been animal lovers but it took reading a
book a few years ago to truly our open our eyes to the realities behind factory
farming and animal abuse in the food and fashion industry. After having that
knowledge, I went completely vegan basically overnight. Being that Jill and I are
so close, that knowledge rubbed off and she followed in my footsteps shortly
thereafter, giving up eating meat and refusing to buy leather or other animal
products for fashion.VPO: Do you find that there is a demand for high end cruelty-free boutique items?CC (Tracey):
Yes there definitely is a demand out there. We started Compassion
Couture out of our own need for these items in the hopes that there were more
people out there like us. Turns out we were right – we hear from our customers
all the time that they have been frustrated by the limited selection and poor quality
of animal friendly accessories, especially shoes, they’ve resorted to purchasing
in the past. It’s very validating to hear how happy people are when they are
introduced to our shop!VPO: What is the process for selecting a new product?CC (Jill)
: “We first pre-select our brands to make sure that they have lines
that are completely animal product free and take a proactive stance towards
incorporating sustainability into their practices. Once the brands are selected, we
will go through the look books of these brands and pick out our absolute must-
haves, which is really a fun process! We are both very into keeping up with the
latest fashion trends, but also have a unique sense of style. If we don’t agree with
the fashion industry on a certain trend that is out for the season, we won’t go with
it. And, sometimes Tracey and I will agree 100% on which products to pick and
sometimes our opinions differ. But if we go with some must-haves from each of
us, we figure that we will appeal to many different people’s varying tastes.”VPO: What's your best-selling item?CC (Tracey):
I think the item we’ve had the most interest in is the Olsen Haus
Angel leopard print pump
and I can’t say we are surprised. These shoes are definitely one of our
favorites as well. Even though they are on the edgier side, the pump is a timeless
style and the leopard print is a trend that we’ve seen pop up over and over again.
Not to mention that the shoes are much more comfortable than you would expect.VPO: Is your packaging material also 'green'?CC (Jill):
“Absolutely. Our boxes are all made of recycled post-consumer
recycled materials. Even our thank you cards and business cards are printed on
recycled paper and use soy ink.”VPO: Are you planning on sticking to boutique items or do you plan onexpanding to other cruelty-free products in the future?CC (Tracey):
High quality and style are extremely important to us and most items
that are well-made and fashion forward have a boutique feel. We would love to
expand to other cruelty-free items just as long as we don’t have to compromise on
these qualities. In the near future, we expect to increase our selection of jewelry
and possibly some bath and body products too – so stay tuned for that.VPO:
There is also mention of a possible physical outlet on your website. What
are the future plans for Compassion Couture?CC (Jill):
“We would LOVE to open a physical store in the future! If we have the
funds, we certainly will do it! For now, we are trying to do as many events as
possible so that people can see just how amazing and high-quality our items are
in person. In my opinion, the pictures on the site just don’t do them justice! We
previously were at the Albany Vegetarian Festival and have the VeganShopUp
in Brooklyn on December 4th, The Green Holiday Festival in New York City on
December 11th and are planning on haivng some trunk shows and pop up shops
in the near future.”VPO: Do you plan to sell any stuff for men?CC (Tracey):
Although we don’t have any definite plans to do this as of right
now, this is something we would love to do when the time is right. We are kind
of surprised how often we get asked this question but it is indicative that the
demand is out there for when we are ready.VPO: Aside from starting this great web boutique, are there any other forms ofactivism you participate in?CC (Jill):
“We have donated some gifts this season to non-profits including Farm
Sanctuary, The Humane Society and Our Hen House. Our goal is to be able to
partner with these organizations along with other animal-cruelty non-profits in
the future. We would love to be able to offer some of our proceeds to their great
causes as soon as we get our name out there more.”VPO: Is there anything else you'd like to add?CC (Tracey):
We have some new brands lined up that we are really excited to be
working with so our selection and inventory will definitely be growing – we have
Mink shoes lined up for the spring, have just added Elizabeth’s Kind Café shoes
to our lineup (and she has a number of new designs that we can’t wait to see),
a Love is Mighty order on its way and some other labels that we are currently in
)New Vegan Age celebrates World Vegan Day with 3-day walk to raise awareness of Farm Sanctuary's critical mission
Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) September 20, 2011
Philadelphia's Liberty Bell hangs near Independence Hall as a treasured symbol of freedom. Thirty miles up the Delaware River, a popular tourist destination's name embodies aspiration and promise. To celebrate World Vegan Day this November 1st, New Vegan Age moderator Tom Epler is walking between the two to celebrate vegans' hope for the day when all farm, companion, and wild animals can lead lives free of confinement, cruelty, and unnecessary killing.
"Sixty years ago, Vegan Society vice-president Leslie Cross wrote that veganism is a principle that is not so much about 'welfare' of animals as of 'liberation,'" says Epler, 38, moderator of the New Vegan Age blog. "The liberty of animals—to lead lives free from abuse, confinement, and slaughter—is the beating heart of veganism. Many people already agree that there's just no difference between farm animals and our beloved family pets, and more and more people are making this important, life-changing connection."
Epler is inviting skeptics, supporters, and the curious to join him for any distance of the three-day fundraising walk
to support Farm Sanctuary's mission of providing injured and abused farm animals a comfortable life. He'll set out from the Liberty Bell at 10 a.m. on Sunday, October 30 and arrive at the midpoint of the New Hope-Lambertville free bridge at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, November 1.
"We owe it to the animals, we owe it to our health, and we owe it to the planet to stop using or consuming animals for the sake of beauty, flavor, entertainment, or convenience," says Epler, who's halfway to his goal of having at least 100 friends, family members, neighbors, and fellow vegetarians and vegans donate or come along for part of the walk. "People from many different backgrounds will tell you that going vegan's the best, smartest, and most fulfilling choice they've ever made."
About New Vegan Age:
New Vegan Age (Web: http://www.newveganage.com
, Twitter: @newveganage
) celebrates and promotes the harmony and expansion of the vegan community with original interviews, polls, and commentary, connecting friends and followers with recipes, ideas, and products that make life more fulfilling, more delicious, and more compassionate. In addition to a new Ask a Vegan
feature, recent posts have included a vegan Philly hoagie recipe
and a vegan credo
. Moderator Tom Epler is available to speak about the vegan philosophy and diet at tom(at)newveganage(dot)com.
A few years into being vegan I hit a very pivotal point. Though I didn't fully understand it at the time, I had come to the crossroads with my new way of life and I had a decision to make. I was driving down the road for my delivery job one summer and had just picked up lunch. I reached in my bag and found what appeared to be parmesan cheese covering my breadsticks. In that moment I had my first case of serious doubt as to what I was doing. For some reason, my mind started racing with questions. Perhaps it was the addiction
calling, or maybe it was the lack of information I had about veganism at the time but I started to wonder if I should just eat them anyways.
There is a difference between knowing what is right and actually believing in it. There is a difference between knowing what is right and actually doing it. Up until that point I fully believed that I was doing the right thing. I knew veganism was the right choice. I knew that the animals were suffering needlessly in factory farms and slaughter house
due to cruel and negligent workers, extreme conditions and other atrocities. But there were these burning doubts in my mind, specifically about nutrition. At that point I full believed that I was going to drop dead from lacking essential nutrients. I had bought into the industry hype about protein
and fell right in line with the information I learned in school about the four basic food groups, not yet realizing that the USDA was stacked full of corporate shills
. (Side note, look at this
So the question I had was more than just whether or not I was going to throw out my possibly contaminated lunch, it was a fundamental question about just knowing what is right or actually fully accepting it as a reality. After some careful thought I realized that I had just been afraid. Afraid of what others might think of me. Afraid that I was alienating myself. Afraid that I wasn't getting the right nutrients. Afraid that my bones were slowly going to chip away. I decided, in that moment, that even if my choice to be vegan killed me, I was going to do it anyways. I accepted my fate and fully embraced what I knew in my heart to be right.
Fast forward 12 years - I now realize that it was just mother culture pushing back and that my fears were just stemmed from actually seeing the truth for what it is. The "wool" has been pulled over our eyes and we've been blindly lead down such a destructive path. I had this qualm before I really had much access to information. It was just at the dawn of the internet so the host of readily available videos, studies, facts and figures just didn't exist at the time. I didn't realize that we have just been lied to about anything and everything regarding health and nutrition and that meat and dairy were not only cruel but also extremely unhealthy and destructive when consumed how our culture pushes us to consume them. I know that deep down all of us know that animal abuse is wrong, that our destructive culture is unhealthy for the planet and that our lifestyles will ultimately do us in, but do we actually accept that as the reality and act accordingly or do we just let our fears and doubts keep us passive?
For me, those doubts in my mind kept what I knew in my heart from becoming my reality. Once I made that leap, I finally understood what I was doing and why I was doing it. I opened myself up to new ideas, found answers to my questions and made the journey down the rabbit hole that previously, I wasn't allowing myself to make. Our fears act as internal regulators, just as speed caps on cars work. Once you hit 75, the regulator kicks in and you automatically slow back down. The regulator doesn't let you go any faster. In our case, our regulator doesn't let us progress. Doesn't let us reach our goals or pursue our dreams. These "Well, what if?" type questions always keep us at bay, often causing us to live more fully in our 20/20 hindsight visions, reflecting about the things we should have or could have done, never fully acting on the potential at hand.
The truth is, we have to train ourselves to think this way. We need to know when we're just responding to these regulators and find out how to turn them off or override them. My fears about malnutrition were completely unfounded and misguided. I know now that I never would have found that out had I succumbed to my doubts and fears. If I would have remained blinded by those internal regulators, I never would have continued on that path. And this is applied to every aspect of our lives. From work to school, from friends to family, from trying to surf or snowboard for the first time or just make that initial leap into whatever project you're working on.
It's one thing to just know something, it's another to actually believe it. Don't be afraid, your life and future may very well depend on it.
(...continued from home page)
The documentation of animal abuse, particularly on factory farms, is an issue where vegans and non-vegans can come together to make real change, as both will undoubtedly be effected detrimentally if this is allowed to happen. Health concerns and food safety concerns, granted, but whatever your personal dietary choice, i'm sure we can all agree that nobody wants animals to be unjustly subject to acts of unnecessary cruelty and torture, and the very fact that these videos exist in the first place is good reason for this type of undercover documentation to continue; we need whistle-blowers like these to tell the story of animals who have no voice, and employees who choose to take part in these acts which are, in and of themselves, criminal. -VPO
1. Seventh Generation
2. Dr Bronners
7. Nature Clean
8. Earth Friendly Products
9. Sound Earth, LLC
10. Clear Vue
11. Heather's Natural and Organic Cleaning
this ad promotes a sexist western patriarchal view of women's sexuality and imagery, and exploits that image of woman by using it as a commodity to further an anti-exploitation cause, thus sending a mixed message
This image suggests the very sexist notion that a woman's natural state is unsexy and unattractive.
PETA was founded in 1980 as an animal rights organization, gaining large amounts of public attention in 1981 for the Silver Springs Monkey case
, in which the organization played a pivotal role in bringing attention to and shedding light on the horrifying cruelty behind the scenes of animal testing and laboratory "research". Since then, PETA has been involved in many animal-rights projects that have exposed the horrifying treatment of animals in laboratories, factory farms, and circuses...Hmmm..the circus.Animals are put on display for human amusement, without care or attachment to the well-being of the animal, or purpose this imagery serves to facilitate an "acceptable" meme of exploitation in our society...Kinda sounds the same as putting women on display, without care for the purpose that sexual objectification imagery serves to facilitate an "acceptable" meme of exploitation of women as sexual obejects in our society...Female nudity being equated with sexuality is a dangerous idea - and to speak against it often leads to accusations of "prudishness" or "conservatism", oppression or repression. But that is just not the case. Being nude or naked should be a liberating experience, and not one that is always equated with sex. But reinforcing the idea that a woman exposing herself is all about sex appeal is the reason why it is not only illegal but dangerous for a woman to be topless in public, whereas her male counterpart may walk around freely in most places without a shirt. It is the reason why uncomfortable, often unpractical clothing is depicted as "sexy", while male images in the media include the entire spectrum (fat, thin, short, tall, light, dark) as potentially "sexy". Imagine a world where nudity just meant nudity, and not sexy or unsexy. This could be a reality if only we would stop buying in to sex the way the media sees fit to portray it, and buying in to sexism out of fear of being viewed as "unsexy". We could decide for ourselves what turns us on, instead of letting mass media decide for us. Exploitation hurts everyone, man and woman alike.PETA exploits women, and it is just plain not vegan or compassionate to do so, much less ethical treatment of animals. Placing woman in the role of "sex object' to sell a message is no different from placing a cow in the role of "food object" on the McDonald's menu. Women are not here to serve as the western-patriarchal view of "sex object" any more than animals are here to serve the status-quo view of "cheap food". We must be kind and compassionate to ALL life and LEAD BY EXAMPLE if we are to successfully convey any message; there is no room for hypocricy with such an important message on the line, and it is not vegan to preach respect for life while being disrespectful to women.Another excellent blog on this subject: Check out http://www.thisdishisvegetarian.com/2011/03/peta-sexist-advertising-defeats-purpose.html
for another take on PETA's sexism and get those gears spinning!
Activists Celebrate International Respect for Chickens Day May 4
United Poultry Concerns Draws Attention to the Plight and Delight of Chickens Machipongo, Va., May 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ - International Respect for Chickens Day is an annual project of United Poultry Concerns dedicated to celebrating the beauty of chickens and protesting the misery of their lives in farming operations. Launched in 2005, International Respect for Chickens Day urges people to do a compassionate ACTION for chickens on or around May 4 – leafleting on a busy street corner, tabling at a local school, church, or shopping center, holding a vegan bake sale, educating colleagues at work. May is International Respect for Chickens Month.
To draw attention to the plight and delight of chickens, United Poultry Concerns will display King-Size Bus posters, starting May 9, throughout the Washington, DC Metro Area proclaiming “What Wings Are For” and “Life Can Be Beautiful-Go Vegan!” UPC will also host a peaceful protest on behalf of chickens at the White House on Saturday afternoon May 7 from Noon to 3pm. We encourage people to join us.
“People flock to Washington, DC in May to see the beauty of spring in the Nation’s capital,” says UPC President Karen Davis. “Our King-Size Bus posters and White House event are great ways to bring attention to the life of chickens and the joy of a compassionate diet. Mother hens and their chicks are traditional symbols of spring and rebirth, but the loving care of a mother hen for her chicks has been destroyed by the brutality of factory farming.”
For a chicken trapped in the world of factory farming, to break out of the shell is to enter a deeper darkness full of bewildering pain and suffering from birth to death. During their terrible 6 weeks of life, baby chicks live in dark, filthy sheds on manure-soaked floors breathing poisonous fumes that burn their eyes so badly they rub their hurting eyes with their wings and let out cries of pain. At the slaughterhouse, the chickens “hang there and look at you and try to hide their head by sticking it under the wing of the chicken next to them. They’re scared to death,” said former slaughterhouse worker Virgil Butler, who became a vegetarian when he could no longer stomach this needless horror.
Shakespeare called the rooster “the bird of dawn and trumpet to the morn.” In Letters from an American Farmer
, published in 1782, St. John de Crevecoeur bespoke his admiration for the “gentle hen leading her chickens with a care and vigilance which speaks shame to many women.” The purpose of International Respect for Chickens Day is to affirm the value of these experiences, native to chickens and emblematic of all life, and to encourage people to cherish chickens and Go Vegan.
For more information, contact Karen Davis at 757-678-7875.
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. www.upc-online.org
The Elephant Sanctuary began as a place of refuge to retired circus and zoo elephants. It currently houses both Asian and African elephants, with habitats that have been constructed to cater to the needs of each. The land upon which the sanctuary has been built was acquired from the International Paper Company; in addition to providing a haven for elephants in need, the land is also being rehabed to repair the detrimental effects caused by years of clear-cutting. While the sanctuary is closed to the general public, VIP donors can visit the sanctuary and get a behind-the-scenes look at sanctuary life. Also, as an alternative, you can contact the sanctuary to sign up for a "Volunteer Day", to help with maintenance tasks around the facility that will directly benefit the elephants
. While seeing an elephant during volunteer events is not the focus and is highly unlikely (although you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse), the efforts directly impact the elephants in a positive way and make a tremendous, compassionate difference. If you can't make it out for a volunteer day, consider browsing the sanctuary's wish list
to see if there is a need you may be able to fill. It's heartwrenching to think that these animals have lived a hard life on the road in a circus, or in the small confines of a zoo, but it's uplifting to know that such a wonderful plan has come to fruition and that the dream of a place for these animals to find tranquility and freedom of existence has been realized - vpo
Watch this video of Tarra and Bella, an unlikely pair of best friends, enjoying a day at the sanctuary:
Five simple reasons why going vegan is easier than you might expect. 1. Vegan food is everywhere.
Often, non-vegans will propose the question "What do you eat?” These days, it's easy to answer simply. Practically any food you can imagine has a veganized form floating around somewhere. If it's not at one of your local restaurants, there are host of recipes online or compiled in the countless vegan friendly recipe books floating around these days. Not only this, fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, and rice are all readily available practically any place "food" items are sold. And speaking of living in the digital age, here are some awesome examples of what vegans eat... everywhere. http://whatveganseat.com/ http://whatveganseat.tumblr.com/ http://whatdoveganseat.blogspot.com/
This leads us to the next point. 2. Information is readily available
With the wealth of resources at our finger tips, information about veganism, vegan friendly food and restaurants, recipes, activism, videos, how-to guides, tips, tricks and the answer to any question you could reasonably conceive are all at your disposal. There are even phone apps that list vegan friendly ingredients for instant access to solve those tough questions.
With this in mind, do your homework. Find out where and why your food is produced the way it is. Find out where it comes from and who makes it. Find out what all of those unpronounceable ingredients are. Find out who produces nutritional information in our schools, who teaches our kids, and why doctors are not actively taught much about nutrition in medical schools.
The information is everywhere. Check out our links section for our recommendations. 3. Being vegan is easy.
If the above mentioned wasn't enough, being vegan is strikingly simple once you get over the idea that animals are food. Food is food, animals are animals, and animals are just not people food. Once you get in tune with this simple concept, everything else just falls into place.
There is a strong difference between knowing what is right and actually accepting it. We often catch ourselves saying "I should really exercise more" but fail to follow through. Many people end up doing this with veganism. Knowing all of the benefits, yet holding themselves back with a mental block, we often find ourselves inactive. Things don't need to be this complicated. Rebuild your relationship with food and the planet. Understand why it is that you do the things you do and how it impacts the rest of the world. Suddenly, these decisions come easy. Just let that process happen and build that framework into your life. 4. Veganism is no longer socially taboo
I'm sure many people might object to this point but consider the state of veganism 10 years ago. You'd be hard pressed to meet someone who even knew what veganism was, let alone be open to the idea. Now days, veganism has hit the mainstream and is all over the place. You even get non-vegans opening up all vegan restaurants just to cash in. Sure, you might get some flak from your friends and relatives from time to time, but veganism now has a solid foundation in our society and isn't going anywhere. It’s no longer viewed as an extremist fad by the general public and as we watch things unfold, this image will only improve as we move towards a more compassionate society. 5. It's good for what ails you.
This is where the old adage "Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food" really rings true. If you're not vegan now, try not eating any dairy products for two weeks just to see how differently you feel. There are hosts of studies with countless research showing time and time again the great benefits of a vegan diet, and how when done properly, can often correct and reverse many ailments. Of course this is actually your body talking and not the food. We often underestimate the natural abilities our bodies have to cure themselves and when we get the right combinations of food and exercise, we can combat practically all diseases and sicknesses.
If you find yourself in the situation where you're looking for answers to a health issue, look up the benefits that a vegan diet might offer you.
And lastly, if it's better for you and the planet the choice seems simple. Why vegan? Why not!