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Soul 🎼!

Show compassion for all Moms this Mother’s Day: Go veggie!

By Dr. Heather Rally, D.V.M.

What if your mother were artificially inseminated time and time again? What if you were taken from her shortly after birth? No nurturing, no love, no celebration. What if she cried out for you constantly but to no avail? You had already been slated to become someone’s dinner.

As a veterinarian who’s concerned about all animals, I hope you’ll keep cows in mind on Mother’s Day — and any other time you’re enjoying a meal with your family — and opt for dairy-free foods.

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Cool your jets this summer with vegan ice cream! Tastee! And it’s always for sale at Trader Joe’s, in Shrewsbury, Rt 9, right over the bridge!

Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to feed their young. But on today’s dairy farms, they are kept almost constantly pregnant so that they’ll produce a steady supply of milk. Their calves are typically taken away from them when they’re only a few hours old.

Male calves are commonly raised for veal. They’re chained up in tiny crates and intentionally fed a formula that’s low in iron so that they’ll become anemic and their flesh will stay pale. They take their first weak, wobbly steps — to slaughter — when they’re between 3 and 18 weeks old.

Females are turned into virtual milk machines like their mothers. When their production wanes, they, too, end up at the slaughterhouse, bloodied, dangling by a hind leg with their throats cut.

Cows are like us in important and relevant ways: They’re made of flesh and blood.

They feel pain and love.

They form strong family ties and grieve when they’re separated from their loved ones.

In An Anthropologist on Mars, Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote of a trip that he and agriculture-industry advisor Dr. Temple Grandin took to a dairy farm — and of the bellowing that they heard:

“They must have separated the calves from the cows this morning,” Temple said, and, indeed, this was what had happened. We saw one cow outside the stockade, roaming, looking for her calf, and bellowing. “That’s not a happy cow,” Temple said. “That’s one sad, unhappy, upset cow. She wants her baby.”

As that mother cow demonstrated, all animals have thoughts, feelings and desires. Here’s an example of another basic need: Cows long to live in pastures. A study at the University of British Columbia recently found that cows want to get outdoors as much as they want food.

The researchers steadily increased the amount of force that it took for a cow to open a door leading to either food or pasture. Most of the cows studied pushed just as hard to get outside as they did to get to food.

The scientists speculate that this is because grass is softer than concrete, so outdoors, cows can move comfortably. Soft ground is better for their hoof health and reduces the likelihood of lameness. And they have a basic behavioral need to live in the grasslands, which are, of course, their natural environment.

Yet fewer than 5 percent of cows in the U.S. are allowed to spend time in pasture, and “80 percent never see a blade of grass,” according to researcher Marina von Keyserlingk.

Change is needed, and gradually it is happening. Surveys suggest that half of Americans now consume dairy-free milk. To those of you who still drink cow’s milk, please consider going vegan for Mother’s Day — and beyond.

If you have children, you’ll surely understand how traumatic it would be to lose a baby. And as we all have mothers, we should be outraged that any mother, human or not, would be subjected to a life of torment, as are cows in the dairy industry.

By choosing tasty vegan foods this Mother’s Day and all year round, you’ll be showing compassion for all mothers!

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Octopuses are ‘too smart’ to eat — and so are other sea animals

By Paula Moore

Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines recently when she declared that octopuses are “too smart to be food.” During a Slack chat with her Goop coworkers, Paltrow recounted the story of Inky — the octopus who famously escaped from his enclosure at the National Aquarium of New Zealand and slid down a 164-foot drainpipe to freedom — and said, “I had to stop eating them.”

She’s right: Octopuses are extremely intelligent, resourceful and inquisitive, and we would do well to leave these Einsteins of the ocean off our plates. But I’d go even further than Paltrow: We should give all sea animals the benefit of the doubt and take seriously the moral implications of eating them.

Paltrow is hardly the first person to come to the conclusion that clever octopuses are friends, not food. Several years ago, a chain of aquariums in the U.K. launched a campaign to urge the public to stop eating them. “[A]ny aquarist who has worked for any length of time with octopuses will tell you they not only think … they are all individuals,” explained Sea Life curator Aisling Graham at the time.

Octopuses use tools, communicate with one another and form social bonds. They have been observed carrying and using coconut shells as shelter and wielding the poisonous tentacles of Portuguese man-of-wars like swords. They can navigate mazes, solve puzzles and open childproof jars.

Octopuses’ cephalopod cousins — squid and cuttlefish — are also highly intelligent, self-aware animals. Squid can pass the “mirror test,” which is commonly used to demonstrate self-recognition and consciousness. And both squid and cuttlefish use complicated color patterns and waves to communicate with potential mates, prey and rival suitors. Some researchers have likened these displays to a type of visual language.

But cephalopods aren’t the only smarties in the sea. Rabbitfish pair up and take turns keeping watch for predators so that their friends can safely eat. Rainbowfish can learn to escape a net via a single hole after only five trial runs — and remember the escape route a year later. Catfish and cichlids glue their eggs to leaves and small rocks so that they can carry the precious cargo to safety. And goldfish can tell the difference between music by Bach and by Stravinsky.

Scientists have verified that sea animals are also capable of experiencing pain. Octopus expert Dr. Jennifer Mather says, “[Octopuses] can anticipate a painful, difficult, stressful situation — they can remember it. There is absolutely no doubt that they feel pain.” Biologist Culum Brown, author of a study about fish sentience in the journal Animal Cognition, maintains that “it would be impossible for fish to survive as the cognitively and behaviorally complex animals they are without a capacity to feel pain.”

And Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins, says that we “grossly underestimate” fish. “They are not just things; they are sentient beings with lives that matter to them.” Yet despite the evidence that fish are smart, sensitive animals with a capacity for suffering, we continue to kill them by the billions every year. According to Balcombe, “lined up end to end,” these estimated half-trillion dead fish “would reach the sun.”

We continue to learn more about the intelligence, talent and awe-inspiring capabilities of other animals. If we want to call ourselves “thinking animals,” the least we can do is acknowledge that each of these beings is an individual — a “who,” not a “what” — and allow them to live their lives in peace.

How I Saved Money by Going Vegan

From PETA.ORG:

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By Shekalia

Back in the day, I wasn’t necessarily swimming in cash. I was a student, so you can imagine how empty my pockets were. When I found out that animals suffer miserably on cramped factory farms for our food, I was determined not to let my financial situation deter me from going vegan. But I was surprised to learn how affordable vegan foods are and that I could actually save money by ditching animal-derived foods and planning my meals.

I created a budget and became a money-saving ninja. And now I’m here to pass on what I’ve learned. Here’s how I saved money by going vegan:

Brainstorm Meal Ideas Before Making Your Grocery List

Some folks make the mistake of creating a shopping list without actually thinking about what they’re going to cook. Don’t do that. Instead, sit down and think, “What dishes do I want to make?” By doing this key first step, you’ll avoid overspending at the store and start saving money.

Here are some ideas for meals that are cheap and easy to make:

Stir-fry: This can be made up of anything, and it only takes one pot. Just chop up your fave veggies, heat up some oil, and start frying. Add some cooked noodles and tofu.
Pasta: You can buy pasta for as little as $1—and pasta sauce is just as cheap. Add veggies like onions and mushrooms for texture.

Chili: All this dish requires is beans, veggies, and spices, and voilà—you’re done! You can’t beat this simple go-to meal, plus chili can be used in a variety of ways: Put it on fries, on Fritos, on nachos—the list goes on. If cooking isn’t your thing, most grocery stores carry “vegetarian” chili that’s actually vegan. Just check the label to make sure that it doesn’t contain animal-derived ingredients.

Don’t Forget the Staples — and Buy in Bulk

Food is usually cheaper when you buy it in large quantities — and if your kitchen is always stocked, you won’t be tempted to order expensive takeout when cravings hit. Stock up on staples like beans, grains, nuts, and frozen fruits and veggies. (I like to buy quinoa in bulk because it can be more expensive in smaller amounts.) Sometimes, I prepare a large portion of beans and rice to eat with other dishes that I cook during the week. This saves me time and brain power, as I don’t have to come up with a meal from scratch.

Shop Sales

We all love a good deal. Plan your grocery shopping around when stores and markets have sales. And don’t skip the dollar store — most stores carry staples like beans, rice, pasta, and frozen produce as well as other vegan options. Go to your local dollar store and browse the aisles — you never know what you may find.

Cook!

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I started cooking when I was 6 and was quite the little chef — although it involved mostly meat-based dishes. When I went vegan, I realized that preparing meat-free meals is far simpler. Cooking your own meals saves you money, too, while sparing your body the negatives effects of eating unhealthy takeout.

While cooking at home will save you money, there’ll be moments when you need to grab a bite to eat on the go. Taco Bell, Subway, and other vegan-friendly fast-food places have meals that’ll fill you up for just a few bucks!

Try Mock Meats and Tofu

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Mock meats like those made by Gardein and Tofurky are great sometimes. Don’t focus on replacing meat with mock meat, though. Instead, concentrate on eating more whole foods — and don’t forget about our friend tofu. One block can cost as little as 99 cents, it’s extremely versatile, and it’s also a better, cheaper substitute for meat that can be found at pretty much any grocery store.

By going vegan, you’ll be able to eat well for cheap and you won’t contribute to animals’ suffering. Knowing that piglets’ tails are cut off without painkillers, male chicks are ground up alive, and cows are separated from their calves inspired me to change my lifestyle — and as a result, I was able to cut my spending in half. I no longer buy meat, dairy foods, or eggs, which accounted for most of my budget in the past. I now buy and prepare affordable, nutritious plant-based foods. What could be better than saving money and being kind to animals and my body?

Too many American schools are still flunking lunch!

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This summer the City of Worcester ran a kick-ass summer lunch/snack program for low-income/hungry kids at our parks – the USDA’s national Summer Food Service Program! This blue bus (pictured above) could be seen rolling down our city streets, even making stops at our branch libraries! … School’s begun! Hola, Ms. Lunch Lady! Unlike lots of school districts, the Worcester Public Schools work to incorporate fresh veggies and fruits into students’ meals – at every grade level! AND EVERY STUDENT CAN GET A FREE LUNCH! Go, WPS, go!!! – Rosalie T.

By Heather Moore

I don’t care what kids say — the school lunch lady is not trying to kill them. The federal government is. Well, I have my suspicions, at least. Many of the meals served as part of the National School Lunch Program are high in fat and cholesterol and contain considerably more sodium than fiber. They’re a heart attack in the making. I wonder if that’s why the American Heart Association has warned us that atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries — begins in childhood and progresses into adulthood, at which point it can lead to coronary heart disease.

Most American schools serve the same artery-clogging meals that were served when I was a student, and frozen meals still had to be baked in the oven. How can we expect students to take a health teacher’s “healthy eating tips” seriously when their school cafeteria is serving unhealthy foods?

Salisbury steak, pepperoni pizza and chicken nuggets need to go the way of film projectors and hand-crank pencil sharpeners. And fast-food corporations should also be expelled from schools — or at least suspended until they serve more plant-based meals.

As Dr. Neal Barnard, the president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says, “Fresh produce, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are nutritional powerhouses that study after study has shown to be quite literally lifesaving .… [D]iets high in animal protein are associated with a fourfold increase in the chance of dying from cancer or diabetes — making heavy meat and dairy consumption just as dangerous as smoking.”

Responsible parents teach their children not to smoke because cigarettes cause cancer and other health problems. For the same reason, they should make sure their kids don’t get hooked on hamburgers and other unhealthy foods. Let’s put more emphasis on teaching children to eat vegan meals — at school and at home. Kids will gladly eat plant-based meals, such as pasta, veggie burgers and black bean chili, if they’re delicious as well as nutritious.

Knowing this, the Coalition for Healthy School Food created the Cool School Food program to develop, test and implement plant-based meals in school cafeterias. The program — which helped two public schools in New York implement the first entirely plant-based school menus in the U.S. — aims to make it fun and exciting for young people to try new foods and learn about their health benefits.

Food Is Elementary, another school program that was recently featured in VegNews magazine, is also working to introduce children to plant-based foods, which the kids prepare and eat as part of a curriculum established by the founder of the Food Studies Institute, a New York-based nonprofit that helps school cafeterias incorporate low-fat, high-fiber foods into their menus.

We need more programs like these. Students are fed up with the unappetizing, inhumane and potentially disease-promoting fare that passes as lunch in many school cafeterias. Last year, students at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Chicago boycotted school lunch in an attempt to persuade officials to serve healthier meals, including more fresh fruit and vegetables.

That’s hardly an unreasonable request. The school cafeteria is supposed to be a source of nourishment, not disease. This year’s National School Lunch Week, which will be observed in October, aims to remind “parents, students and school officials that a healthy lunch helps students power through the day!”

But how can we expect kids to make it through the day — and learn compassion and empathy — if they’re eating unhealthy animal-based foods? We need to teach children that “v” is for vegan and serve them healthy, tasty, cruelty-free plant-based foods.

Very cool!

From THEGUARDIAN.COM:

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Wildlife underpasses not only reduce the number of animals being hit by cars but also preserve movement and gene flow for the animals on both sides of the road.

The movement of genes occurs when an animal born on one side crosses the road and breeds on the other.

The three young cougars being led through this culvert by their mother will be accustomed to using it and are likely to look for mates on either side.

Photograph: Tony Clevinger/Johns Hopkins University Press

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Enjoy great stories, photos, videos from a terrific news media organization – theguardian.com !  – R.T.

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Cool vegan cook book you can give Mum this Mother’s Day! Zero animals killed/tortured!

BETTY GOES VEGAN – R.T.

Stopping climate change can begin at breakfast

By Craig Shapiro
 
Some 80 world leaders are meeting this month at the 21st annual Conference of Parties, the critical world climate change conference in Paris, in the hope of reaching a legally binding, universal agreement to curb carbon emissions and keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
 
The goal is crucial and long overdue.
 
But it’s also in jeopardy. Concerns have already been raised that the summit will not meet its goal. Christiana Figueres, the United Nations (U.N.) climate chief, predicts that it will fall short of the 2-degree target, and there is heated disagreement over which countries among the more than 190 that will be represented should cut greenhouse-gas emissions the most and which ones should pay for it.
 
While diplomats bicker and compromise, the Earth suffers. But we don’t have to wait for them to agree—each of us can act right now to protect the environment, starting with our breakfast.

Simply eating food derived from plants instead of from animals is one of the most effective actions that we can take to limit climate change.
 
Raising and killing billions of cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens and other animals for food every year is responsible for a staggering 51 percent or more of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide. It’s no wonder that the U.N. has said that a global shift toward vegan eating is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.
 
Making that shift has never been more urgent. Last month, the World Meteorological Organization reported that concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, key greenhouse gases, appeared to be increasing rapidly and that average levels of carbon dioxide had risen 43 percent over pre-industrial levels. Researchers at Britain’s University of East Anglia followed with another ominous finding—the Earth’s average temperature has exceeded historic norms by 1.02 degrees Celsius.
 
According to a 2014 study by researchers at the University of Oxford, just by going vegan, we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that our diet contributes to climate change by up to 60 percent. Eating plant-based meals also helps prevent other kinds of environmental damage.
 

Eighty percent of agricultural land—nearly half the land mass of the contiguous United States—is used to raise animals for food and grow crops to feed them. Meat production wastes precious water, too: It takes more than 2,400 gallons to produce a pound of cow flesh, while producing a pound of whole-wheat flour requires only 180 gallons. Runoff from factory farms and livestock grazing pollutes our groundwater, lakes, rivers and oceans. Reducing our reliance on meat, eggs and dairy foods would free up land, water and other resources for growing food for hungry humans instead.
 
Eating vegan doesn’t just help the Earth. It has also been tied to lower rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and many other maladies. And of course, leaving animals off our plates prevents horrific cruelty.
 
Piglets raised for meat often have their tails cut off, the ends of their teeth broken off with pliers and notches cut out of their ears without any pain relief. Cows on dairy farms are repeatedly impregnated and their newborn calves are torn away from them almost immediately so that humans can take the milk that was meant for their calves. Turkeys and chickens are shackled upside down in slaughterhouses, have their throats cut and are plunged into scalding-hot water, often while still conscious.
 
Going vegan is eco-friendly, healthy and humane, but odds are that it won’t be one of the solutions discussed in Paris. That doesn’t matter, though, because climate change is everyone’s fight, and the bell is ringing.p