Taking Off the Blinders

Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try  Everyone’s story of their path to becoming vegan is as different as the people themselves.

Many decide to live a vegan lifestyle because they see animals as sentient beings and can no longer be part of a cycle which causes pain and suffering to the animals who live in our supposed food chain. Others have come to understand that the greatest positive affect they can have on our environment is to exclude all animal products from their life. Some have adopted to this lifestyle simply because they believe it to be healthier for themselves. For many, it is the combination of all of these ideas that starts them on the path to a plant-based life. For me it was a little different; it was a very slow process of removing the blinders that had been covering my eyes for decades.

For the majority of my life, I lived like most people; taking weekly shopping trips to the grocery store looking for good buys on meat, veggies, dairy products and pantry items. I looked at labels, believed them and bought what I thought to be healthy’ish choices for my family at prices I could afford. This was all I knew and all I had been taught by my mother. It was simply the way it was and the way it had always been. During this period, my oldest daughter had decided not to eat meat at the age of five, and so her meals were as vegetarian as I could make them. I knew really nothing about nutrition and a vegetarian lifestyle but did my best.

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Fast forward ten years …

Knowledge is power, but only when it is appliedI moved to a 150-acre organic farm which homed highland cattle, laying chickens, pigs (occasionally) and once each year, what the industry and farmers call, meat chickens or broilers. There is also a stocked pond with fish on the property, and a number of dogs and cats. During this time, I began researching pesticide and herbicide use in the food industry and did not like what I saw. So for most of my time on the farm, we organically grew all of our own veggies and raised beef, chicken, pork and eggs for our own consumption. I made my own bread, cookies and cakes, my own lemonade, mayo, pickles and ketchup, soups and stocks and almost everything you can think of. It was a ton of hard work but made my grocery store trips few and far between. At this point, my oldest was vegan and my middle daughter had become vegetarian. I was participating in meatless Mondays and the odd vegetarian meal but I was not buying into the vegan lifestyle. I found that many vegans were what I described as hard-core and found myself defending my omnivore lifestyle with them in person and on social media. I justified my position by saying that I did not participate in the meat industry and that every one of my animals were treated with respect and care, which they were. They were spoiled; they did not live the life of the animals in the industrial farm settings. That was, until I sent them to be killed and put into my freezer. I felt quite strongly that for me this was a great way to live.

I am an addicted researcher and began exploring the industrialized meat industry. The more I learned, the more I felt the need to continue investigating. What I found was disgusting and almost unbelievable, but my stance remained - I was raising my own food and was therefore not part of this horrendous production. I also began to sell products from the farm in an attempt to keep others from participating in these industries.

Fast forward to three years ago…

Your eyes will only see what your mind is prepared to comprehend My oldest daughter asked if I could help with writing articles for her blog. I love to write but it was a vegan site and so most of my articles were based on research rather than personal experiences. It was during the research for plant-based articles that my blinders slowly began to come off. I very quickly came to realize that facts do not cease to exist just because they are ignored. I began to grasp that, yes my animals were well looked after, they were not beaten nor were they starved, mutilated or made to live in filthy confined areas with other abused animals, but they were sentient beings. They, like us, did not want to die. They were not put on this earth to become a spot on my dinner plate. I finally came to understand that they experienced love, sadness and pain just like we do. My cows did not want to become steaks; my pigs were not just bacon and chops; and my chickens would fight not to end up as stew or fried pieces of their body parts. This epiphany was a punch in the stomach, a knife in my heart and a huge wake up call.

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Fast forward to two years ago…

Deep down you already know the truthAfter a long and winding road, my blinders finally came off. I realized that animals do not need to die for me to live. I do not need to eat meat, dairy or eggs in order to be healthy. I see that a vegan diet is filled with great tasting food. And I see that I really don’t miss cheese as much as I thought I would. I see that buying cruelty free products is as easy as a quick google search; that telling companies to stop using Palm Oil can be done in seconds on their social media; and that educating others can be accomplished without shaming.

Through my research, I now know the truth about the industries that abuse and exploit animals for our food, clothing, medicines, cosmetics, sport and even our entertainment. I know the harmful impact they have on our environment. And, I know it does not need to be this way! Each of has the power to make a change. Each of us needs to become the best version of ourselves. It has been wisely said that the greatest threat to our planet is that someone else will save it.

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Thank you to my daughter for helping me to see again.

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Skip the Turkey This Christmas

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Most of you would never eat your dog or cat for Christmas or any other meal, and we condemn, sign petitions and protest those who participate in the dog or cat meat trade. And yet tens of millions of beautiful, intelligent turkeys are killed and served at holiday tables every year.

Turkeys are smart animals with loads of personalty just like your pets. They love to have their feathers stroked and even do a dance when they see a person they recognize. And just like your cute little puppy or kitten, turkey’s develop a strong bond with individuals who spend time with them.

I am not going to go into the horrific details of how these birds are treated for the short five months of their lives, but I will say that it is NO different than the cruel and disgusting treatment of dogs in the meat trade or the elephants and rhinos in the ivory trade. I will tell you all baby turkeys are subject to excruciating mutilations without any anesthetic of having all “non-essential“ body parts cut off - beaks, toes, snoods (the fleshy red protuberance that dangles over turkeys’ beaks and is used to attract mates). Sadly, their painful and traumatizing death comes as a relief to the torture they endure while crammed into sheds that allow them only a couple of square feet of space. In fact, just in the US alone, millions die while being transported to the slaughter houses - they are kicked and thrown, their legs and wings are broken off, all so families can eat their single holiday meal.

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Understand this, there is NO such thing as a humane slaughter. These animals do not want to die and the processors who kill turkeys have no interest in being kind in anyway. Their mandate is to make money spending as little time as possible with the kill and processing. There is nothing humane about inflicting violence and death on animals just because people like the taste of their flesh.

Humans have zero biological need to eat meat, dairy or eggs! So what can you do? The simple answer is to STOP eating and serving turkey or any other meat. Whether you’re looking for store-bought, order-online, or make-your-own options, it’s easy and delicious to veganize your favorite holiday main dishes. There are literally millions of vegan recipes on the internet. I have tons of recipes in the Food section of this blog and they are all very easy and delicious. At some point in the not too distant future, you will not have the choice, as the water, earth and air will be of such poor quality, raising animals for food will be impossible.

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Our compassion towards animals does not need to be taught, we simply need to stop un-teaching it!


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Easy Ways you Can Help!

The number of issues out there negatively affecting our environment, animal welfare and our own health, can seem overwhelming at times. Many feel like their actions will not make a difference, but that is simply not true. Everything and anything you do goes toward a society that is more responsible and less reliable on convenience.

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I have put together a list of really easy fixes that can make a big difference and probably won’t change your life much at all. Today we are looking at reducing your plastic footprint.

I know one of the “R’s” we are taught is to recycle and yes it does have some value, but understand that 91% of all plastic is not recycled and ends up in landfills and waterways, including our oceans. We are now producing 300 million tons of plastic each year and of that, over 8 million tons is being dumped into our oceans. Worse still, is about half of the plastic produced is used one time only!

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Here are some easy ways to reduce your plastic use:

  • Carry with you - reusable straws, chopsticks, fork, knife and spoon. I keep mine in a cloth pencil case in my purse.

  • Be sure and ask for NO straw or disposable cutlery when you are eating out.

  • Always carry a reusable shopping bag. There are some that fold up quite small. Over 500 billion plastic bags are produced each year and they have a “working life” of about 15 minutes.

  • Buy and use a reusable water bottle and coffee cup.

  • Avoid excessive packaging when buying fruits and vegetables. You don’t need your carrots or apples in a plastic bag.

  • To help avoid excessive packaging with all groceries, stock up at your local bulk food store and bring a reusable container like a mason jar to fill up. Also, if your favorite product does use way too much packaging, email, Facebook or Instagram them and ask them to cut back. Companies will listen.

  • Ditch the Ziploc bags and use glass containers instead.

  • Swap out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo brush. Over 50 million pounds worth of toothbrushes end up in our trash. They both need to be replaced at the same rate but the bamboo will biodegrade after 6 months.

  • If you live in a country that hasn’t banned micro-beads, make sure your cosmetics do not contain them.

  • Over 2 billion plastic razors are thrown out each year. Switch to a metal reusable razor and ditch the plastic for good.

  • AND FINALLY, every time you make any type of purchase give it a look over to see how much plastic it contains or is wrapped in, then decide whether or not the item is worth the millions of years that the plastic will spend on this earth. Choose wisely and companies will have no choice but to get on board or if not, to get thrown out with the trash.

Save a Life - Adopt A Turkey This Thanksgiving

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Celebrate turkeys as friends - not food. You can make a difference in an animals life by making a modest donation to Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary is located just outside of Stratford, Ontario. Cedar Row is a place of hope for animals rescued from abuse, neglect and slaughter, happening on meat, milk, and egg farms. Hundreds of farm animals including pigs, cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese, have been rescued since the sanctuary was established in 1999. 100% if the funds received, go directly back to the animals.

Over 300,000 million turkeys are killed in Canada and the United States each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

They’re intelligent animals who enjoy having their feathers stroked and who like listening to music, with which they’ll often loudly sing along. In nature, they can fly 55 miles an hour, run 35 miles an hour, and live up to 10 years. But the story is very different for turkeys on factory farms: They’ll be killed when they’re only 3 to 5 months old and, during their short lives, will be denied even the simplest pleasures, such as running, building nests, and raising their young.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! See the Food section of my Blog for some great plant based recipes, and DONATE to a turkey or farm rescue like Cedar Row!

Less Waste This Easter

Over 8,000 tonnes of waste is generated from Easter Egg cards and packaging every year! We have to do better this year. Here are some easy things you can do to bring that number way down.

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One of the easiest and most important things you can do is to buy your Easter treats from a bulk food store (bring your own reusable bags). Choose either foil wrapped candies or unwrapped treats. There are beautiful wooden eggs available for you to stuff full of the kids treats. Mason jars and reusable bags work great as well. If you are going to buy from your grocery store, look for foil wrapped items with as little packaging as possible. And for those of you who have the time and talent, nothing says love like homemade treats.

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All Easter baskets should be reusable. Buy a nice one that can be used for other things during the rest of the year. Skip the plastic shreds, the paper ones look and work just a good, or you can skip all together!

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Egg dyeing: There are tons of tutorials on line for amazing natural dyeing techniques. Did you know that regular dyes are tested on animals?! You can even use kitchen scraps to come up with some great dyes.

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Enjoy this great time of year but remember we need to look after tomorrow as well.  Happy Easter!!

Starting Your Plant Based Lifestyle

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If you are thinking about changing your lifestyle to include being vegan, you have made a great choice! We have some steps to help make the transition easy!

First thing is there are no hard and fast rules. You need to make changes in a way that works for you. Don't view a plant based lifestyle as the finish line, but as an evolving process of mindful eating and living. I can tell you that you will eventually lose all cravings when it comes to eating animal products. I can also tell you, you WILL get enough protein, and you WILL be asked this question for the rest of your life.

Many people go vegan overnight and if that works for you – great. But for a lot of you, baby steps work best. You can start off by making small changes to your everyday meals. Here are some ideas but always make sure whatever plan you chose, it works for you.

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During your first week, you can try switching up your breakfast meals to plant based choices. Tofu Scrambles, Nut Butter and banana toast, avocado toast and protein packed smoothies are all quick to prepare and delicious. Our website has tons of easy recipes. Adding either nut or coconut milk or vegan cream replacements to your coffee is another easy one. There are great butter replacements in the grocery stores or you can use coconut oil. Try to source out ingredients that don’t contain unsustainable palm oil.

Next, you can start adding plant based lunches. If you can switch them all up at once that’s great. If not, change up your weekday lunches and leave the weekend meals for later. Smashed chickpea and avocado wraps, vegan pesto pasta, instant vegan miso soup, and quinoa veggie bowls are all super easy to make, are packed with protein and are tasty. There are plant substitutes for almost everything out there. So if you are craving mayo on your wrap, your grocery store probably stocks vegan mayo-if not, ask for it.

Looking up new plant based recipes to try will give you some inspiration and help you when you go grocery shopping. While you are researching new recipes, take a look for local restaurants who offer vegan choices.  When you are eating out, most restaurants will accommodate your requests for a vegan meal, so if you don’t see something on the menu just ask.

And as far as the protein question goes, here is your answer - rich sources of protein are found in all types of plant based foods including beans, soy products like tofu and seitan, quinoa, nuts, seeds, nut butters, lentils, non-dairy milk, green peas, oatmeal, hummus, hemp seeds, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, bananas, nectarines, nutritional yeast and wild rice…. As you can see there are tons of ways to add protein to your plant based diet.

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Remember that living a plant based life isn’t just about your food choices nor is it a “diet”; it is about living a healthy life while causing the least amount of harm to animals and our environment. You need to find your reasons for choosing this lifestyle and remember them if and when you think you might stray. Once you learn the real affects animal products have on your health and the environment, it will be an easy choice.

 

 

Give the Finger to Animal Testing

What we allow, is what will continue.

The exact numbers of animals that are tested on worldwide is difficult to nail down, but the estimates are in the hundreds of millions. We can't expect changes to occur unless each of us are willing to make real changes. If enough of us boycott products that are tested on animals and support those who don't, companies will have no choice but to change. Animal testing on consumer products is outdated. We have the technology to put safe products on the market and it is time to end the needless suffering of millions of animals each year.

Today's Cruelty Free Product is toothpaste. There are several companies out there who offer cruelty free and fluoride free options. They can be found in your local health food stores, at many grocery stores and almost always on-line. Jason is one company that does exactly that. In Canada, The Green Beaver Company has a great selection of cruelty free products. 

Your choices DO make a difference as we speak with our dollars. Collectively we have all the power to make a difference.

Cruelty Free Shampoo and Soaps

Each year, more than 100 million animals—including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds—are killed in U.S. laboratories for biology lessons, medical training, curiosity-driven experimentation, and chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing.

The Live Clean® brand was created with a simple vision: to create high-performance skin and hair care products that celebrated beauty while honoring the earth. None of their products are tested on animals, they are free of harmful chemicals, and their plant based ingredients are sourced locally. The are available in stores everywhere. Click here to find a location near you. You can also purchase them on Amazon. 

Please make a difference in an animals life and chose cruelty-free products.

Today's Cruelty Free Product

Eco Max - In Canada

An environmentally responsible company producing cruelty-free cleaning/laundry products. One of the first Canadian manufacturers to register their environmentally friendly cleaners with EcoLogo. You can buy on line here or find them at your local supermarket in the organic section and they are quite often on sale.

Method Products - USA

Method is a cruelty free company who consider the past, present and future implications in everything they do. Again you can shop on line here or find them in your local grocery store. If they don't carry these products, ask them too. Your dollars speak volumes.

Just One Change Makes A Difference In An Animals Life

We destroy their habitats, we hunt them for trophies to hang on our walls, we put them through tortuous testing just to have another choice of laundry soap or mascara. We cram them into impossibly small enclosures and force feed them corn, antibiotics and hormones. We dump our garbage into the oceans and poison their homes. We wear their skins, cut off their horns and fins. We lock them in zoos and aquariums and pay to see them perform at circuses after they have been beaten into submission. We are destructive, cruel and selfish and it needs to end! We MUST makes changes in our lives to protect the animals of this earth and stop this disgusting behavior now!

Here are a few easy steps YOU can take to help put an end to the horrendous treatment of the animals we share this planet with:

- Only buy products that are NOT tested on animals. This is very easy to do. DId you know that most of the cleaning products out there are tested on dogs whose feet never touch the ground their entire lives? There are tons of sites out there listing these products. Here is one.  

- Stop wearing leather and source cruelty free and socially responsible brands. Again it is easy to google this and find them. Here is a short list.

- One of the biggest impacts you can have is to become vegan or at least vegetarian. If you believe this is too much for you to do all at once, begin by picking two days a week to eat a vegan or vegetarian meal. Here is a bunch of great recipes to start you off. You will feel better and you will save countless lives.

 - Use egg replacements or buy ONLY pasture raised eggs. Cage free and free range are only marketing terms and mean nothing when it comes to the treatment of the animals. Here is one you can try.

- Speak out!! Sign the petitions, share information. Go to Facebook and Instagram sites and tell companies that you will NOT accept their treatment of animals any longer. Tell everyone and anyone who will listen that is not okay to hunt animals for trophies, it is not okay to lock dolphins and whales up in small tanks, it is not okay to beat elephants into submission so someone can ride them!

- STOP visiting zoo's, aquariums and circuses who use animals for entertainment. Without your money they cannot exist.

- Make sure your sunscreen is reef safe and clean up after yourself when you visit beaches and waterways. Here is a safe sunscreen. 

- There are millions of animals locked up in shelters and rescues - Adopt don't shop! Put the breeders out of business, and hopefully we can put the shelters out of business too.

- Teach our children to be respectful of ALL animals. 

We can no longer be complacent! It is up to us to give our voices to those who have none. We all need to be better versions of ourselves, and we need to do it now!